Sectoral Presentation by Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, QC, MP
Attorney General of Jamaica
July 05, 2016
To successfully tackle the murder problem, some of the fundamental rights and freedoms which we have guaranteed to our people may have to ‘abrogated, abridged or infringed’, because the evidence we are examining convince us that such action may be “demonstrably justified in [this] free and democratic society”.
I have already begun to discuss some of the proposals with the private and public bar and the Honourable Chief Justice in her administrative role as head of the judiciary. While judicial discretion must be preserved and respected, Parliament, in exercise of its powers to pass laws for peace, order and good government, will have to set the threshold for the consequences that will flow when people choose to murder and cause mayhem.
So, Mr Speaker, we are going to touch the Bail Act, again. We are going to touch the Criminal Justice (Administration) Act, the Jury Act, the Evidence Act, the Criminal
Justice (Plea Negotiations and Agreement) Act, the Firearms Act, the Offences Against the Person Act, to name a few.
We are going to make some radical changes. Right now, the sentiment is one of “no bail for murder, unless self defence arises on the Crown’s case and the likelihood of an acquittal is high’. We are thinking of abolishing jury trials for murder and go ‘judge-alone’. Away with the ‘Unsworn Statement from the Dock.
It is unthinkable that ‘this vestigial tail continues to wag in Jamaica’, further promoting a culture of impunity. In with ‘Notice of Alibi’. We must settle the Crown’s right to appeal. We will have to set up a special track to try murder, taking into account the realities surrounding the scheduling of cases in the courts.
These are no ordinary times. May God grant us the wisdom to discover the right, they will choose it and the strength to make it endure.