Pay cleared accused
PEOPLE WHO ARE REMANDED to prison and are subsequently cleared of their charges should be compensated for the time spent in jail, says Sir Roy Marshall.
The legal luminary’s comment comes in the wake of the Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) recent ruling that “a day in prison is a day in prison” and time spent on remand should be credited during sentencing.
Sir Roy told the SATURDAY SUN the CCJ’s decision was a just and good one. But he added that any individual who was held on remand for a specific period and then released without subsequent conviction associated with that time, should be subject to some form of compensation.
Last week, the CCJ delivered its judgement in the appeal of Barbadian Romeo DaCosta Hall who had been jailed for six years on May 27, 2008, by Justice Margaret Reifer, for causing serious bodily harm with intent. He had originally been charged with murder committed on January 22, 2005.
The five judges determined that prisoners on remand should be given “full credit” for that time.One of the judges, Justice Jacob Wit, also noted that people who viewed giving full credit for time spent on remand as being “soft on crime”, were simply wrong.
Sir Roy suggested the CCJ could have gone a step further by giving direction on the recourse to action which people had after experiencing jail time without a criminal conviction.
He said remanding people to prison was a very serious undertaking and the law courts would now have to be quite mindful when they did so.
Sir Roy described remanding people for inordinately long periods without trial as “disgraceful”.
He also suggested it was wrong for people to be summoned or taken before the magistrates’ courts and then spend time there without seeing the magistrate for the reason for which they appeared.
Sir Roy noted the Privy Council in London was anxious to get away from appeals in the Caribbean because they took a lot of time. He said the CCJ had the jurisdiction to take decisions about matters related to the Treaty of Chaguaramas but had no authority to abolish the right of appeal to the Privy Council.
Praising the CCJ and the high quality of its judges, he lamented the reluctance of several jurisdictions to refer their matters to the regional court but still clung to the Privy Council. He said in colonial times one of Britain’s practices was to divide and rule and much of that still existed in regional thinking.