Attorney General encourages Citizen Involvement to make Criminal Justice System work

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The Attorney General said citizen involvement is “essential” for the system to work.

Madam Attorney General Sen. Hon. Allyson Mynard-Gibson QC
Madam Attorney General Sen. Hon. Allyson Mynard-Gibson QC

NASSAU, The Bahamas — Beginning Saturday, June 25, the Bahamas Government is increasing the allocation of time and resources to citizen involvement in the criminal justice system, announced Senator the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs in her Fiscal Budget presentation for 2016-2017 in the Senate, Thursday, June 23.

The Attorney General said citizen involvement is “essential” for the system to work.

She said the Government recognises that unless people feel safe, they should not be asked to participate as witnesses. In light of this, the Office of the Attorney-General will host a Witness Care Seminar.

“The criminal justice system starts with a citizen who reports a matter. The system needs that person to become a witness and it ends with citizens who are prepared to serve as jurors,” said the Attorney General.

She said the Office of the Attorney General pledges to do the following:

· Hold the witness’ hand throughout the process
· To fully advise the witness of his rights, including witness anonymity and witness protection
· To keep witnesses fully informed by maintaining regular contact with witnesses
· To be available at times set for interviews
· To be available to answer questions

She told Senators that the Office of the Attorney General would like witnesses to agree to do their part by staying engaged up to and including trial – including reporting any attempt to intimidate – an offence punishable by imprisonment and that trial will be fast tracked.

“Imagine a murder case that has been investigated, the accused charged, the Voluntary Bill of Indictment presented in record time and the matter is ready for trial – let us say in nine months.

“This matter cannot be tried if witnesses are not prepared to come to give evidence. And it cannot be tried if persons are not prepared to serve as jurors. All the work is done but we cannot proceed. And why? Lack of involvement by citizens. We want citizens to have a full appreciation for their vital role in the administration of justice.

“So even though the system has the capacity to sustain and complete trials within a reasonable period of time, unless citizens are prepared to do their part, the system will not work as intended.”

Public seminars and events in relation to jury service will also take place.

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