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Aug 4, 1998

Law revision improves judiciary

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Beginning this week there will be some changes in courtrooms across the country as the Law Reform Act, passed in the last sitting of the National Assembly, went into effect on August first. The act abolishes the offence of attempted suicide, although it will still be a crime to encourage another person to take his or her own life. Other revisions include the protection of women from unfair cross-examination in trials for sexual offenses, and the empowerment of the court to make orders for sex offenders and other social deviants. According to Director of Public Prosecutions, Adolph Lucas, the act also provides for a new and simpler procedure for calling witnesses in preliminary inquiries.

Adolph Lucas, Director of Public Prosecutions

“The law reform act was passed recently to make it easier for the court, for the police to do their task in various forms. For example in indictable procedures, where preliminary cases is concerned, it is easier for the accused to deal with the matter at the Magistrate’s Court instead of waiting for the long preliminary inquiring and calling all those witnesses and, having them sworn in etcetera.

If the witness did not appear and that witness was required to prove certain elements of the defense, the prosecutor will ask for some adjournment. So that is wasting time because the magistrate will have to set a time when it will be convenient for the witness. Some time it could take two weeks, some times a month. While with this one, all the magistrate needs to do is consider the statement the police has handed to him and once he is satisfied the statements have been handed to the defense in time, the law says fourteen days, he will just commit the accused.”

The Act also strengthens the law on firearms and drugs. Persons convicted of drug trafficking are now liable to pay up to one hundred thousand dollars for the offence, double the previous amount. Firearm licenses can also be revoked by the Commissioner of Police if enough evidence has been presented that the license holder has committed a crime. Persons with imitation firearms can also be arrested if they commit an offence using the toy gun.


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