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Confessions must be videotaped

GERCINE CARTER, [email protected]

Confessions must be videotaped

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Electronic recording of confession statements by police is now mandatory.

This was disclosed by attorney Andrew Pilgrim yesterday during an Evidence Act Seminar organised by the Supreme Court at the Radisson Aquatica Resort. He made the point to Australian legal scholar, Stephen Odger, who is in Barbados to update the local legal fraternity on developments in the area of case law in Australia.

Odger was speaking to the local judiciary, magistrates, attorneys, and staff of the Department of Public Prosecutions about the positive effect of video recording confession statements in Australia, a practice which Chief Justice Sir Marston Gibson said afterwards, had “tremendous implications” for Barbados.

But while the Chief Justice was unsure about whether the new provision in the Evidence Act had in fact been proclaimed, Pilgrim told the media on the sidelines that police were aware of the change and electronic recording was being done since December.

He said: “The days of moving through without confession evidence being electronically recorded are now over. That is the effect of the law effective December 11.”

The outspoken Queen’s Counsel added: “My big concern about the Evidence Act was the impact of having all our confessions admissible without recording and I have been advocating for that from the time the act was passed in September 1994.”

He suggested that last year’s judgment handed down by the Caribbean Court of Justice in the case of convicted Barbadians Vincent Edwards and Richard Haynes may have forced the hand of Parliament. (GC)