ATTORNEY GENERAL (AG) Anand Ramlogan will this week write to the Opposition to propose a meeting for next week to talk about anti-crime legislation, in the wake of public disquiet over 20 murders occurring in the first week of 2014. However, talking yesterday to Newsday, Ramlogan also accused the Opposition of having failed to respond to him on three bills he said he had given them six months ago respectively on the death penalty, jury trials and denial of bail to known offenders. Of the latter, he said he had recently had to bring the Bail Bill to Parliament without being told the Opposition’s position.
Ramlogan urged changes in criminal laws and in the administration of justice.
Of the latter he vowed to re-draft a bill brought to Parliament to speed up trials by abolishing the preliminary inquiry has been found to be “problematic and impractical”. In consultation with the DPP, Judiciary and Criminal Bar, the bill will be simplified.
Ramlogan listed other measures to be examined. He said he is considering drafting a “plea bargaining” bill, noting how this practice has greatly helped relieve the workload on law-courts in the United States.
Of the former he proposed steps to bolster witness protection, to make it less intimidating for children and scared witnesses to give testimony such as by the use of a video-link to the courtroom, to stop criminals from jury-tampering and to maybe abolish jury-trial for certain violent offences with this being done as a pilot scheme with a sunset clause.
Scared witnesses can be facilitated by being allowed to be outside of the courtroom and to testify via a video-link, to stay behind a protective screen if testifying in court “live”, to give pre-recorded testimony, or give anonymous evidence.