JIS News

Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, says the Bills to amend the Evidence Act, which have been under development for several years, are expected to be tabled in Parliament  during October.

"These Bills are my immediate priority in this area, and it is my hope and intention to introduce them to Parliament during October without further delay," he said.

The Minister was responding to questions raised by Opposition Senator, Tom Tavares-Finson, in the Senate on September 28.

Senator Golding informed that the Bills cover a number of important matters which are urgently needed "but have been long in coming."

These matters include the admissibility of evidence via live audio-visual links from remote locations, video recorded evidence, witness anonymity orders, the admission of computer-generated evidence, the admissibility of documents by agreement between the parties in criminal trials, and measures to facilitate the taking and sharing of evidence across borders in matters of mutual legal assistance between States.

Senator  Golding said once the Bills have been passed by the Senate, he intends to initiate a comprehensive review of the Committee Report and its recommendations and  "I will seek the comments of the various Bar Associations, the Advocates Association, the Jamaica Constabulary Force and the Ministry of National Security."

"In doing so, I will also take into account the views of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) on the Committee's recommendations as, while her Office was represented on the Committee, He informed that a Committee was established in 2008 by former Minister of Justice and Attorney General, Senator Dorothy Lightbourne. The committee included attorneys-at-law who practise as defence counsel at the private criminal bar, the Public Defender and lawyers within the public sector.

It was set up to review the operation of the provisions of the Evidence Act relating to the admissibility of written statements in criminal proceedings in cases where the author is unavailable for cross examination, and in particular, the adequacy of the current safeguards against the reception of fabricated or unreliable evidence; and make appropriate recommendations, where necessary, for reform to ensure fairness.