Flawed, unconstitutional and not thoroughly thought through!
This is how attorney-at-law Alyvan Babb, is describing Government’s recent changes to the Bail Act, which he said has left him confused.
Recently Attorney General Dale Marshall announced in Parliament that anyone facing a murder charge would only be considered for bail after they have spent 24 months in custody.
However, Babb is contending that the changes were not the answer to solving the issues being faced in Barbados as it relates to persons already on bail returning to the streets.
The attorney said he held the view that the problem was a justice system that does not work.
“I live in Barbados just like all of you. I am affected by crime just like all of you, and I too would want to see a solution for the issues that we are facing. But tampering with the Bail Act is not the solution,” he said.
The amended act now reads as follows: “ . . . In any case where a person is charged with murder, treason and high treason or an offence under the Firearms Act which is punishable with imprisonment of ten years or more that such a person shall not be granted bail unless 24 months have passed.”
“So that’s a two-year sentence based on what, an allegation? In trials and in evidence, there is data from judges which says that a witness may be honest but mistaken. And if you really think about it in your every day life, I am sure that at some stage everyone of you have either touched someone that you found out to be the wrong person, shouted for someone that you found out to be the wrong person, or even spoke to someone that you found out to be the wrong person, and that is a person that was standing right in front of you.
“So isn’t margin and error greater when the police who weren’t there who is acting on the strength of information, wouldn’t the margin be greater that they may also have the wrong person?
“And it is for that reason that some countries have totally abolished the death penalty. So how do you tell me that I am charged and I am to be sentenced for two years up front when in fact the evidence after a trial may in fact show that the witness had the wrong person?”
Babb voiced his concerns about the changes, as he delivered remarks on the topic The Bail Act And The 2019 Amendments, at the Democratic Labour Party’s (DLP) Astor B. Watts Lunchtime Lecture Series, held at the Errol Barrow Gallery, DLP Headquarters, George Street, St Michael.
It was there Babb also indicated that while the fears of society must be taken into consideration, Government still has a responsibility to make correct decisions that do not conflict with the Constitution.
“Two wrongs don’t make a right. If the two-year sentence passes and a trial has not began, what are you going to do with that five-time offender…except let him go again. So it shows you that the issue is not the Bail Act. The trial of offenders in a reasonable time is the key to solving the problem,” he said.