Former Minister of Social Transformation Hamilton Lashley has charged that the entire judicial system is in dire need of overhaul.
His comments follow those of Attorney General Dale Marshall who said last Friday that bail should be denied murder accused who secured release and then committed other heinous crimes.
Marshall said: “The fact is the individual who was arrested yesterday [Friday] is already on bail for a murder charge and there are several other individuals in this country who are out on bail for murder charges and go on to be charged for other homicides. There are individuals who are on bail for firearms who are given bail and come out and engage in the same kind of activity.”
The former MP for St Michael South East under both Barbados Labour Party and Democratic Labour Party administrations said he had called previously for judicial reform and agreed with Marshall.
“I was the person who was advocating a lot for reform in the judicial system. The justice system in Barbados must be amended and must be reformed. I do not believe that anyone that commits murder in these cases, which is different to manslaughter, should really be out on bail.”
Lashley urged the Attorney General to hold a public meeting and allow major stakeholders to be a part of the discussion on reform.
He said: “Although there is a cry for the amendment of the Bail Act, this is a perfect opportunity for the Attorney General to call a Town Hall Meeting with all of the stakeholders so you obtain information on the other areas of law that need to be amended. Not only the Bail Act, there are many other pieces of legislation that are irrelevant in law that needs amending.”
Lashley also suggested to Government that a vengeful response to crime would not have a deterrent effect.
“You cannot look at it from that emotional side because if we continue this kind of mentality – a man commit murder so lock he away till he dead or hang he – we are harbouring the same direct instincts of the criminals. So we have to look at a justice system that brings fairness to the system and also brings the necessary punishment to the person that is found guilty of the deed that they would have committed,” he told Barbados TODAY.
He recommended the Attorney General do a careful review of the judicial system before he makes any major amendments to the Bail Act or any other area of the judicial system.
Lashley said: “In terms of bail we still have to remember that we have a justice system which states that everyone is innocent until proven guilty and once that remains the rule of law in Barbados then we have to follow it. But if you are going to amend it ensure there is equal justice for all in the amendment of the law. But as it is right now we are reacting to a serious situation in this country.
“Of course, the Attorney General has to act but in his reaction I am asking him to do a careful review of the judicial system. There needs to be a total review of the judicial system in Barbados and you cannot blame the magistrates as our laws are made in Parliament and not the Supreme Court.”