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Malahoo Forte responds to concerns about new Bail Act

Marlene Malahoo Forte and attorney Clyde Williams
 
Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Marlene Malahoo Forte has reacted to early concerns about certain provisions in the new Bail Act. 
 
She maintains that the proposed law is necessary based on Jamaica's high crime rate, adding that she anticipates more vigorous discussion by both the Joint Select Committee and the wider public.
 
There have been varied reactions to the Bill since it was tabled in Parliament, Tuesday.
 
Initial concerns are that the provisions for pre-charge bail may be unconstitutional.
 
Other concerns include the impact it may have on the constitutional provision for freedom of movement.
 
But Mrs Malahoo Forte has insisted that the Bill addresses all these issues, complies with the Constitution, and its provisions are customised to address Jamaica's unique crime situation. 
 
The minister dismissed concerns about any form of indefinite detention, insisting it has long been settled that persons detained cannot be held for "an inordinate period of time".  
 
Still, Mrs Malahoo Forte has acknowledged that the new law has the potential for abuse by the police. 
 
"Every law has a potential for abuse if not properly implemented, and I think every new piece of law that we pass, we have to train afresh those who are charged with enforcing the law and implementing the law. So that's a general concern that exists, not only in relation to this law," she contended Thursday while speaking on Radio Jamaica's Beyond the Headlines.
 
The minister is, however, confident that there are enough safeguards. 
 
Changes 
 
Attorney-at-Law Clyde Williams has said, based on his preliminary assessment, there are several problematic provisions which are likely to be challenged if the law is passed in its current form.  
 
"...What they have sought to accomplish in this is largely around detaining persons, who are not charged, for months at a time. And that, for me, is ringing out in this piece of legislation," he said.
 
The attorney predicted that "significant" changes will be made to the Bill as it progresses through Parliament.


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