“Bad idea!”

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Don’t try that; it’s a no-go! That, essentially, is the Barbados Bar Association’s (BBA) polite but emphatic preliminary response to the Attorney General’s proposal to make it mandatory for those charged with murder, treason and under the Firearms Act, to serve 18 months on remand before they become eligible for bail.

So concerned is the Bar about this proposed amendment to the Bail Act, that it fired off a 26-page preliminary response (five-page letter and 21 pages of case references) the day after receiving official notification from the Attorney General’s Office outlining the change.

The lawyers’ representative contended that access to bail was one of the most important constitutional safeguards of each person, and the Bail Act, as presently drafted, was consistent with this. It presumed innocence and “requires that every person charged with an offence continues to enjoy his right to freedom of movement unless certain stated circumstances exist”.

However, the proposed amendment announced last October – part of Attorney General Adriel Brathwaite’s suggested changes to existing laws or new legislation planned for stricter penalties to curb violence – ran contrary to this legal principle. (SP)

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