ATTORNEY General Ryan Pinder. (File photo)
By LEANDRA ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
ATTORNEY General Ryan Pinder says he does not believe it will be appropriate for the country to pass legislation that outright denies bail to people charged with murder given a recent Privy Council ruling that declared the matter “unconstitutional”.
Mr Pinder was asked to state his position on the matter after both Commissioner of Police Clayton Fernander and National Security Minister Wayne Munroe recently expressed support for keeping people charged with serious crimes in custody rather than being released on bail.
The latest crime statistics show that most of the victims killed for the year were out on bail.
While Mr Pinder did not definitely express a view on the matter, he noted that any decision made has to fall in line with the Constitution based on “guidance by the Privy Council”.
“You would look at a recent Privy Council decision that was just issued this month or last month, July with respect to Trinidad,” the Attorney General said yesterday.
“Trinidad had put in law that they would deny bail for murders. Jamaica has a similar law. The Privy Council ruled that that is unconstitutional and throughout that law and Jamaica is now going to be forced to change their law.
“So, anything we do has to be in the purview of the Constitution and guidance by the Privy Council, which is the ultimate court of the land. Now do I think that you know, harsh sentences should be put on murderers and we shouldn’t let them roam the streets? Of course, I do but it has to be done properly.”
Mr Pinder also pointed to a recent Court of Appeal judgement that ruled bail could be denied to an alleged “murderer if they thought that releasing him would be a threat to innocent people, not necessarily himself.”
He continued: “Now, when you’re looking at going into another level, there’ll be a threat to themselves, because if they’re out on bail, they are a target. We’re not quite there yet. The Court of Appeal hasn’t gone that far yet.
“I’ve had a discussion with the president of the Court of Appeal on that ruling and we’re discussing the legal parameters related to that but given the recent Privy Council decision out of Trinidad, I don’t think that it would be appropriate for us to pass a law that would deny bill outright to murders.”
Gun violence has been an ongoing issue in the country, with murders said to be up 21 percent this year when compared to the same period last year.
There was also a 49 percent rise in armed robberies so far this year.
Yesterday, Mr Pinder also revealed that a key priority for the Davis administration over the next several months will be dealing with legislation as it relates to crime prevention and intelligence.
He said the government intends to make amendments to several crime fighting laws, including the National Crime Intelligence Agency Bill and the Defence Act.
“You would have heard the prime minister say that we have to focus on intelligence, and we have to focus on the reasons for crime, to try to prevent them along with obviously catching the criminals,” he added.
“Part of our agenda in framing out crime prevention intelligence, we look to the table the National Crime intelligence agency amendment bill, which strengthens the National Crime intelligence agency in order to better respond to intelligence on criminal matters.
“We’re also looking at amendments of the Defence Act. In that Defence Act amendment, we look to strengthen the scope and provide for a broader influence of the National Security Council of The Bahamas so we can have a broader and more in depth, a security approach by legislation, the legislation empowerment of the National Security Council.”
Mr Pinder continued: “We’re also looking to launch a criminal law overhaul project through the law reform and Law Review Commission and what that will do is look at all of our criminal laws, to modernise them, to bring them into international best practices but also to look at certain elements of case law, especially in the Court of Appeal decisions that have been made that we would want to look at from a legislative point of view, to assist with the criminal enforcement and prosecution of criminals in the country.”