British expert says preliminary inquiries should end in Eastern Caribbean

first_img Share Tweet Sharing is caring! NewsRegional British expert says preliminary inquiries should end in Eastern Caribbean by: – September 17, 2011 Sharecenter_img Map of the Eastern Caribbean. Photo credit: caribbean-on-line.comKINGSTOWN, St Vincent — A British legal expert helping with the revamping of the criminal justice system in the Eastern Caribbean believes that preliminary inquiries should be abolished.A preliminary inquiry determines if the state has enough evidence to justify a trial. It is intended to safeguard against putting people in jeopardy of being convicted in a trial without the state having sufficient evidence to prove the case.If, after hearing the evidence, the magistrate is satisfied that there is enough evidence that the person could be convicted, then the person is committed to trial at a higher court.Witnesses often testify twice: during the preliminary inquiry and also at the trial.“Why call witnesses twice? We can call witnesses just once at the trial and then their evidence can be tested,” criminal justice advisor to the Eastern Caribbean in the British High Commission Daniel Suter said, referring to preliminary inquiries.On Wednesday, Suter discussed on local radio the Prosecutors’ Code recently launched in St Vincent and the Grenadines.Suter spoke of the deficiencies in the local court system, saying that delays, often caused by procedures and the manner in which matters are investigated, were one of the main concerns.“What I am looking at is to make investigators work more closely with prosecutors at an early stage. … What I can see as a good way ahead is abolishing preliminary inquiries. I don’t think that they are systems that allow for justice in as much,” Suter said.He added that preliminary inquiries also delay trials and accused persons should be tried “at the earliest stage” since this relates to human rights.“It is [also] not fair for witnesses and victims that matters are prolonged for that period of time,” he said.Suter emphasised the role of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in determining who is prosecuted.He objected to the police performing the role of arresting, interviewing, investigating, charging and then prosecuting an individual, as is generally the case in the magistrate’s courts.“My personal view is that that’s unconstitutional and that it should be the DPP who determines the matters that are prosecuted both in the Magistrate’s Court and also the High Court.”He said that with the implementation of a national prosecution service, police prosecutors, would become part of the DPP’s office.In this way, the DPP would be fulfilling his constitutional role of managing prosecutors going through the Magistrate’s Court and “maintaining that objectivity and independence,” Suter said.He said that police prosecutors who do not become members of the national prosecution service could return to investigating or study law.Suter also addressed the issue of prosecutors passing the “evidential stage” and the “public interest test” before going to trial.“Within the code for St Vincent, it says that there must be a reasonable prospect for conviction. So, if all the points to prove for an offence are made out and the prosecutor decides ‘Yes I believe I can get a conviction on the basis of the evidence that is produced to me by the police,’ the evidential stage is passed.”He, however, cautioned that it should not always be the case that even if there is sufficient evidence that a person should be prosecuted.Prosecutors, Suter said, should consider, on a case-by-case basis, the potential long-term negative impact of prosecution on a person’s life.He said if a prosecutor, after such considerations, decides not to move forward with the case, the crime would still be recorded and prosecutors might not be as lenient with repeat offenders.The Prosecutors’ Code speaks to this in that it sets out the parameters in which a prosecutor decides whether to prosecute.“… [T]he public needs to know … what are the rules of engagement that the prosecutor makes the decision by and the public interest test can be one that can cause a lot of debate. And therefore the code sets out a number of examples where the public interest stage can be considered,” Suter explained.“It is a debated point but there is something there to secure justice and the reason for the code is to ensure there is transparency, objectivity in relation to any decision being made, because, of course, they can be critical decisions,” he explained.Suter also suggested that police interrogators tape or video record their interview of suspects, saying that this could help to protect the credibility of the police.He further noted that the changes being proposed to the Eastern Caribbean court system are not “UK-centric”. The UK, he said, can learn much from other systems around the world.by Kenton X. ChanceCaribbean News Now contributor Share 37 Views   no discussionslast_img read more

Montserrado District #13 Rep. Aspirant to Open Vocational Hub

first_imgMr. Jallah makes remarks at the occasion.Ahead of the pending representative by-election in Montserrado County’s Electoral District # 13, a representative aspirant has promised to open a vocational hub for youth in the district.The hub, according to Andy B. Jallah, when completed, will benefit community dwellers, specifically school-age youth who do not have the opportunity to enroll at the various colleges, universities or vocational institutions.Jallah made the disclosure recently at a program marking the commencement of the first ever inter-community quizzing competition, organized by the friends of Andy in collaboration with the Bassa Town Youth Organization. The ceremony was held in New Georgia Estate, Gardnersville, a suburb of Monrovia.The quizzing competition, which was held under the theme, “Navigating the District Through Academic Discourse,” brought together community leaders, high school students from New Georgia Estate, Chocolate City, and Shoe Factory.Mr. Jallah told residents that his team, comprising several youth, has been working very hard with stakeholders, to ensure that his dream becomes a reality.He said that young people nowadays continue to be carried away by peer pressure (“bad friends”) to engage in illegal activities, thus making some of them to be found in community ghettos.Jallah said the vocational hub, which is excepted to open any time soon, will buttress government’s effort to minimize the proliferation of ghettos around communities.In order to achieve this dream, there is a need to collectively work together, “because if the youth are busy doing something positive, some of them will not go in the ghettos or follow ‘bad friends,’” he said.Jallah then assured the youth of his commitment to ensure the continued provision of more scholarships.Over the years, Mr. Jallah said he has been one of the persons who has provided scholarships for more than 26 young people, some of whom have continued their academic sojourn.He stressed the need to rehabilitate drug users in the district and have them integrated into society, something which he said will help the country youthful population.Jallah further promised to get rid of ghettos in the coming months, in collaboration with authorities of the Liberia National Police (LNP), the Liberia Drug Enforcement Agency (LDEA), and other security apparatuses, to ensure that young people are not carried away by peer pressure.“In order for some of the young people to get a better education, we need to invest into their education and transform their lives,” he said.Ramsay T. Sudeso, II, a resident of the New Georgia Estate, lauded Jallah for being farsighted in his search to empower some of the youth.Sudeso said over the years, no aspirant ever thought of opening a vocational hub in the district; therefore, Mr. Sudeso encouraged some of the youth to take advantage of every learning opportunity to improve their lives.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more