Minister of Justice, Senator the Hon. Mark Golding, says a strategy has been developed to address the backlog in the nation's courts, which he intends to take to Cabinet soon.
Senator Golding was responding to concerns expressed in the Senate today (April 19), during the debate on the Committal Proceedings Act.
The Backlog Reduction Strategy was developed out of the 2007 Justice Reform Taskforce report.
Senator Golding said that once Cabinet approves the measures, "I intend to speak to it publicly and you will see some of the different (processes) that we are planning to take to try and address the issues, which were raised."
The legislation, which was passed, seeks to abolish preliminary enquiries in Resident Magistrates courts, and provide for committal proceedings. The objective is to alleviate or reduce problems related to inordinate delay, high legal costs and the unavailability of witnesses to give evidence.
Opposition Senator, Alexander Williams, while supporting the bill, noted that it will lead to an increase in the caseload in the Supreme Court.
"So, it means whereas, before, the Resident Magistrate would be a kind of a clearing house for cases for which a preliminary enquiry would be the appropriate procedure, the clearing house in effect, is now going to take place in the Supreme Court. This, I think, is something we have to tackle when this becomes law," he stated.
Government Senator, K. D. Knight, while expressing similar concerns, said he has not heard of any criticism of the committal proceeding process or seen any judgement of the higher court that has worked to the disadvantage of the accused persons.
"The comfort I take from that is that it can work properly, so it is for our personnel, who are involved in the process, to ensure that it works," he stated.
He also expressed pleasure at plans by Senator Golding to institute a training programme, noting that it will provide the opportunity for stakeholders to familiarise themselves with the legislation.
Minister Golding had stated that the bill would be brought into effect after some training on its provisions.
With the passage of the legislation in the Upper House, it will now be sent to the House of Representatives for approval.
CONTACT: LATONYA LINTON