Justice Minister moves to speed up trials
PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, CMC –Justice Minister Herbert Volney is promising to bring to Parliament earlier next year new legislation that would speed up the trials of persons charged with committing crimes.
Volney, speaking at a symposium at the Markhaz-al-Ihsaan Institute of Islamic Theology on Sunday, said the goal of the Justice Ministry is to ensure that criminals were sentenced within one year of the crime.
“I will hope to have the support of the Opposition on this issue because crime is not a party matter it is a national issue. The administration of criminal justice is not a party of criminal issues, it is a national issue where everyone has to be on board starting with the judiciary,” he said.
“There will be many people who will resist this kind of change because it will hit them in their pockets,” he said, describing the existing laws as “Victorian” which were implemented at a time when the volume of criminal activity was not as high as today.
Volney, a former High Court judge, said the criminal justice system was “swamped and overloaded” with too many cases likening the situation to a blocked artery.
“Too little has been done over the years where there are hundreds of cases in the system and too few courts to deal with them. Incarceration is ineffective unless it is brought about fairly and quickly to the commission of the crime. It makes no sense to sentence a man ten years after the crime. For people to feel justice for a crime, sentencing must be carried out in a short time,” he said.
During the discussions, principal of the Markhaz-al-Ihsaan Institute of Islamic Theology, Dr. Waffie Mohammed said compensation should also be considered for the families of persons murdered in the country.
“What happens when a breadwinner is killed, what does the State do to assist that family? I don’t think we have anything here in Trinidad, except Parliament now puts something in place,” he said. (CMC)