Saint Christopher And Nevis Strengthens Justice System With Passage Of Justice Interference Prevention Bill, 2024

Attorney-General, the Honourable Garth Wilkin.
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Basseterre, St. Kitts – The Federal Parliament of Saint Christopher and Nevis, on Thursday, May 09, 2024, passed the Justice Interference Prevention Bill, 2024, a pivotal legislation aimed at fortifying the criminal justice system against interference in legal proceedings. The Bill, passionately championed by Attorney General (AG), the Honourable Garth Wilkin, addressed critical issues of witness and juror intimidation.

Attorney-General, the Honourable Garth Wilkin.

The development of this Bill, he said, was triggered by the unsettling trend in which key trials were undermined through both overt and covert intimidation tactics by criminal entities.

“Witnesses and jurors play crucial roles in the criminal justice system, and protecting them from intimidation, bribery, or threats is essential for maintaining the integrity of legal proceedings,” stated Attorney General Wilkin during the parliamentary debate.

The attorney general said that this comprehensive legislation establishes specific criminal offences for the intimidation, harassment, harm, threatening, or bribery of individuals involved in legal proceedings, including their family members. The Bill covers a broad spectrum of justice participants from witnesses, jurors, and magistrates to judges and legal officers, ensuring extensive protections across the board.

Honourable Wilkin highlighted the numerous benefits of having strong laws to safeguard witnesses, jurors, and other individuals. These include ensuring justice and fairness; preserving witness testimony; promoting public safety; maintaining confidence in the legal system; deterring intimidation and tampering; supporting investigations; facilitating effective trials; and ensuring legal remedies against intimidation, and ethical considerations.

“In summary, robust legal protections for witnesses, jurors, and others involved in legal proceedings are essential for a just and effective criminal justice system. These protections uphold the fundamental principles of fairness, safety, and trust,” he said.

The penalties introduced by the Bill are severe, with terms up to 25 years and fines as high as EC$500,000 for high-profile crimes, reflecting the gravity with which the government views the act of justice interference.

The Justice Interference Prevention Bill, 2024, is part of a broader legislative effort that includes the Firearms (Amendment) Bill, 2024, and the Offences Against the Person (Amendment) Bill, 2024, all passed on the same day. These laws collectively aim to increase penalties for firearm-related offences, introduce a gun amnesty, and enhance protections for witnesses and jurors, thereby reinforcing the rule of law and public safety in the Federation.

AG Wilkin said that the Government of Saint Christopher and Nevis continues to demonstrate its unwavering commitment to upholding and strengthening the justice system, ensuring that all citizens live in a secure and fair society.

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