Bahamas Attorney General touts success of Swift Justice

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AG and Minister of State Cleaning up the backlog and is making justice swift in the Bahamas – NOW THIS IS A TEAM!

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs the Hon Allyson Maynard-Gibson talks about the increase in convictions, as she touts the success of the Swift Justice programme, during a press conference at the Office of the Attorney General on Wednesday, April 17, 2013. (BIS Photo/Patrick Hanna)

NASSAU, The Bahamas – Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson touts the success of the Swift Justice programme, as it relates to the increase in conviction rate.
She made the announcement during a press conference at the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs on Wednesday, April 17, 2013.

Swift Justice comprises personnel from the Office of the Attorney General (prosecutors), the Royal Bahamas Police Force, Social Services, Public Hospitals Authority, Her Majesty’s Prisons and other relevant agencies.

Mrs. Maynard-Gibson revealed that there has been an 18 percent increase in the conviction rate; while crediting the programme, which was reinstated in May 2012. It then underwent a reconstruction process in October 2012 in an attempt to reduce or clear the backlog of cases.

She produced statistics showing that from May to December 2012, there has been a total of 69 cases that were completed and of that number, 29 persons were found guilty. This represents 42 per cent.

Since the revamping of the Swift Justice programme in October, there has been a conviction rate from January to date of 60 percent.

“We hope to be able to demonstrate, equally as graphically every month that the project is working, that stakeholders are working together so that matters aren’t being adjourned, things like key witnesses not turning up are in fact avoided and that people (criminals) understand that they will be caught, they will be tried and they will be prosecuted,” Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said.

“We’re also moving in the right direction in disposing of matters before the courts. You will see that in less than 12 weeks we were able to dispose of 23 matters with only five judges.”

“We can project that if we continue on that course, that by the end of the year we will easily dispose of at least 200 matters, and that is our target,” she said.

There are only 12 judges in the country with five of them being in the Supreme Court in New Providence and one in Grand Bahama. A conference is to be convened shortly to address this matter, Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said adding that the shortage of judges adds to the backlog problem.

“It gets worst. You can imagine the experience some people have had. You have a trial, you bring your witnesses in, you fly in from wherever, you get the family ready, but the prosecutor is not ready,” she said.

“The court sits all the time ready to hear matters, but it’s off because a key witness didn’t turn up or any other reason that could have been avoided. That just adds to the backlog. So what is happening with Swift Justice is now everything that is within our control to bring to the table, is in fact coming to the table, so that matters proceed.”