The Law Association of Trinidad and Tobago (LATT) has expressed its disapproval at what it said had been “the recent attempts by regional political leaders to ridicule judges for their decisions to grant bail to persons charged with murder”.
LATT also criticized the politicians for what it said is their suggestion that the judges “tend to favor the clients of certain unidentified lawyers”.
St Vincent and the Grenadines Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, addressing the two-day regional symposium on violence as a public health issue which ended on Tuesday and was attended by several Caribbean Community (Caricom) leaders, criticized members of the judiciary, who granted bail to murder accused, asking whether they lived on Mars.
“I am not calling for any totalitarian measure. I am not calling for that. But there is in aspects of our judiciary a creeping lack of awareness as to some of the problems which we face,” he said.
“How can you give somebody who is charged for murder bail? Let’s be serious. How can you do that,” Gonsalves asked members of the symposium.
Barbados Prime Minister Mia Mottley, who is also an attorney, told the regional symposium that many years ago “people did not get bail for murder.
“Now when I look at the stats, not just out of the Bahamas, Barbados and all through the region, the people who are causing the greatest problems are charged with two, three, four murders. Something is fundamentally wrong,” Mottley said.
“So I ask myself two basic questions. How are we going to deconstruct and reconstruct to meet the reality of this jurisprudential development that is undermining the rule of law in our countries and we are going to have to find ways of cooperating from the level of the police to the level of the courts, but in particular, forensics.
“If we can get people to court within nine to 12 months, you have a good chance of a person not being given bail. Beyond 12 months, any number can start to play,” Mottley added.
Gonsalves, a Roman Catholic, who said both his mother and the Pope were wrong in denouncing the use of the death penalty as a deterrent to murder, insisted that it should be used for murder.
However, LATT said that the criminal justice landscape is littered with cases in which the prosecution has failed to prove their case and a not-guilty verdict is returned, or in which the Director of Public Prosecutions determines for one reason or the other to discontinue a charge.