BASSETERRE, St. Kitts — Three Bills, aimed at strengthening the judicial process in St. Kitts and Nevis, were approved by the Federal Parliament and successfully passed on Thursday, March 4, 2021.
These include the Magistrates Code of Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2021, which is a Bill to amend the Magistrate’s Code of Procedures Act, Cap 3.17; the Criminal Procedures (Amendment) Bill, 2021, a Bill to amend the Criminal Procedure Act, Cap 4.06, and the Jury (Amendment) Bill, 2021, a Bill to amend the Jury Act, Cap 3.15.
“They are all meant to lay the framework for the introduction of criminal procedure rules into St. Kitts and Nevis jurisdiction of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. They are very important relatively, similarly simple, but they are important,” said Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, the Honourable Vincent Byron Jr., who was also the Mover of the Bills.
According to Attorney-General Byron, the Magistrates Code of Procedure (Amendment) Bill, 2021 “seeks to confer jurisdiction on the Chief Justice to make criminal procedure rules for the Magistrate’s Court”; the Criminal Procedures (Amendment) Bill, 2021, “seeks to confer jurisdiction on the Chief Justice to make procedural rules under the Criminal Procedure Act, Cap 4.06”; and the Jury (Amendment) Bill, 2021, “seeks to provide for alternate jurors.
Important to note, Attorney-General Byron spoke to the establishment of the Criminal Division in the Federation, a proposal made by the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.
“This Criminal Division is intended to provide for the streamlining of procedures within the criminal jurisdictions of the Magistrates and High Courts to facilitate greater efficiency in the Criminal Justice System,” said the Attorney-General. “The introduction of the Criminal Division is intended to reduce backlogs within the Criminal Justice System and reduce the time persons may have to wait to get a trial. Central to the proper establishment of the Criminal Division, Mr. Speaker, is the implementation of certain Criminal Procedure Rules.”
He added that St. Kitts and Nevis is at the stage to move forward with the introduction of the Division and in that vein a committee was established “to review proposed Criminal Procedure Rules.
“The Committee,” he said, “is led by His Lordship Justice Trevor Ward QC. Other members include His Worship Reynold Benjamin; Dr. Henry Browne QC; Simone Bullen-Thompson, Solicitor-General from the Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs; Francis Letang, Deputy Court Administrator from the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court; Jason Hamilton, Attorney at Law, and Crown Counsel in the Chambers of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Vaughn Woodley.”