By Loshaun Dixon
Basseterre, St. Kitts-The federal government of St. Kitts and Nevis is set to bring 13 bills to Parliament to address issues of law and order and public safety and security later this month.
On May 23, the government will introduce new laws and make amendments to existing laws to targeting bail procedure and fire arm convictions among other issues.
Attorney General Vincent Byron speaking at the most recent Prime Minister’s Press Conference indicated that one of the mandates of the government has been a respect for and adherence to the rule of law.
He added that any meaningful democracy has to embrace a meaningful commitment to respecting laws and upholding them
“These objectives mean that there must also be a regular …balancing of the rights of the individual against the collective demands of the state. The constitution clearly outlines the observance of due process for persons who have been accused of breaking the law,” he said.
Mr. Byron said last year the Police force made a number of recommendations to the government for change in the legal framework relation to criminal justice in the federation.
“These recommendations to change the laws will seek to create more efficiency in the criminal justice sphere, further empowered the law enforcement and strengthen the deterrent effect of criminality. In that regard it was recommended that both the DNA act 2013 and the Justice Protection Act 2012 should be considered to be brought into force,” he stated.
He explained that both of these act were passed by the Parliament but have not yet come into operation.
“It is anticipated that the DNA act will server to assist in solving crimes and the justice protection act should assist in the protection of witnesses,” he said.
The Attorney General said it is anticipated that the regulatory framework to advance information will be strengthened by a bill to be debated in the next Parliament.
“This should help ensure that the movement of persons who have committed crimes be subject to greater monitoring and control not just nationally but also regionally and internationally,” he said.
He added that it was recommended that both the bail act and the firearms act be amended.
“The proposed amendment to the bail act would entail measures to reduce and prevent offences by persons charged with capital offences involving firearms. In other words it has been observed that a number of persons charged with capital offences involving firearms whilst on bail committed other illegal offences,” he said.
He further stated that the alarming trend of those on bail committing more offences has led to government to consider amending the 2012 bail act to include a category of offences that will not be eligible for bail.
“Currently section three of the bail act gives discretion to the court to decide if bail is to be granted or denied and subsection two provides for partial exemption where a person charged with certain offence may only be granted bail by the high court,” he said.
He pointed out that the trends required a proactive approach in the fight against crime.
“Consequently the police force has recommended that bail act be amended to tighten the framework to address persons charged with capital offences involving firearms under a different scheme rather than the granting of bail,” he said, adding that the state is making efforts to remove the possibility of bail in cases where capital offences with the use of a fire arm have been committed.
“The intent is not to deprive anyone of due process of law but to ensure that all persons are adequately protected under the law,” he declared.
“The prosed amendments would entail increasing the penalty for a summary offence from a term of a maximum of ten years in certain cases to a term of imprisonment not exceeding 20 years. The penalty of indictable offences is life imprisonment.”
The Attorney General reiterated the Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is committed to fight against crime and bolster laws to backup that goal.