A success story is being had in the Courts for the first time in a long while!
Nassau, Bahamas — The Bahamas, although experiencing crime at a much higher level than years gone by, has something to look forward to in terms of serving up justice at a rate never heard of on these shores. Swift Justice is the brainchild of the Attorney General, Allyson Maynard-Gibson and carried out by a team of the country’s finest in the Judicial System.
Recently, Bahamian citizens held much a baited breath when the accused, of what is no doubt the most high profile case of the year, was arraigned. They wanted to see if bail would have been granted for such a heinous crime. They listened! They heard! No bail!
Due to the Swift Justice System, this country (January 2015 statistics) has seen a reduction of bail granted for those accused of Armed Robbery, Conspiracy, Burglary/Receiving and Stealing. In the past, criminals had these crimes down packed as crimes they were most certain to get bail for. Now they are not so certain.
Clearly Swift Justice is making a different in our Bahamaland.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Senator the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson made this announcement during a briefing to update the media on the progress of the Swift Justice program at the Office of the Attorney General, John F Kennedy Drive, Wednesday, February 25.
The Attorney General attributed the successful progress ofthe Swift Justice System to the communication, cooperation and collaboration of stakeholders including the Royal Bahamas Police Force, the public and the Office of the Attorney General.
Aided by statistics, the Attorney General said the time for the presentation of Voluntary Bills of Indictment have decreased from 344 days in October 2012 to 78 days at the end of December 2014. “This is a very, very significant because on serious matters such as murder, armed robbery, rape this is the initiation of the process and if you’re able to present the case, that is the VBI in this period of time, it heightens the likelihood that we will actually once a matter is set down for trial that it will get to trial in a reasonable period of time.”
She pointed out that the Office of the Attorney General in collaboration with the judiciary is shooting for the “reasonable period of time” to be less than 2 years.
She addressed the public’s concern on the issue of whether there is a revolving door on bail. In 2014 there were 425 bail applications for murder matters. Of the 425 for murder, bail applications, only 33 of the 425 applications for bail (murder) were granted.
“Also, because we are aware of the public’s concern about persons who are out on bail for murder, committing offences, notwithstanding this statistic [and that is only 33] we have bought special focus to how we prepare for bail applications. I want to point out that for January 2015 of the 22 bail applications for murder, none was granted,” she added.
In 2012, 118 matters were heard on an annualized basis compared to 200 matters completed by the end of December 2014. “This is almost double the number from 2012 to 2014,” she said. The Attorney General explained that these statistics are important because it means that efficiencies have been accomplished without the addition of personnel, rather primarily the result of focusing on “systemic issues”.
Statistics indicate 54% guilty and 46% not guilty for all trials during 2014. The Attorney General also attributed these successes to the result of “greater preparation and focus on systemic issues, and close collaboration with stakeholders particularly the prosecutors and the police. She said, “Interestingly the figure for murder matters, guilty and not guilty for 2014, is the same as the figure for all matters, and that is guilty/not guilty, is 54% and 46% for 2014.”
The Attorney General thanked the stakeholders including the team at the office of the Attorney General and the public for “competent” and “effective” involvement and support in the administration of swift justice. “We are counting heavily on citizens to be involved. It is the citizen that is at the centre of the justice system,” she added.