Submissions being invited on proposed Bail Act

INTERESTED people will have three weeks, beginning November 9, to make written submissions on the proposed Bail Act, 2022, which is now being reviewed by a joint select committee of Parliament.

The newly established committee, which met for the first time on Thursday, agreed that advertisements inviting submissions from the public will be placed in the newspapers on November 9 and 13.

Following the receipt of all submissions during the stipulated period, the committee will reconvene on December 1.

Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs Marlene Malahoo Forte, who chaired the meeting, advised all who will be making submissions to be as clear as possible.

“If you have a concern and any question as to the legality or constitutionality of it [the Bill], you can state it so that we can provide an answer. If you have a suggestion for how any clause may be improved on… then we will welcome those suggestions, of course, then we would deliberate among ourselves,” she said.

Malahoo Forte said that, although the Parliament ultimately is vested with the power to pass the law, the legislature is the representative of the people, noting that part of the mandate of the Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Affairs is to educate and engage with the public on issues of the law.

“If a piece of law is not working well you can speak to us and we can look at it and hear the concern because, at the end of the day, [what] we are hoping to achieve is to ensure that we take ownership of the rules that guide the society and that we implement and enforce them,” she said.

Malahoo Forte said that not all groups will be asked to make oral presentations, but all submissions received will be duly considered by the committee.

She noted that specific entities will be invited to make submissions. These are the Jamaican Bar Association and the regional bars; the Advocates Association; rights advocacy groups; the Norman Manley Law School and the faculties of law of The University of the West Indies and University of Technology, Jamaica; the guild of students of both universities; and the National Secondary Students’ Council.

She said that as part of its public education drive on the provisions of the Bill, the Ministry of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, through all available media β€” traditional and new β€” will share “snippets to enable persons to better understand what we’re doing here”.

Meanwhile, Malahoo Forte noted that the other dates for the sitting of the committee, barring anything unforeseen, will be December 6, 7, 8, 13, 14, and 15.

The Bail Act, among other provisions, looks at the power to grant bail, the reasonable conditions on which bail will be granted, and what amounts to sufficient cause for keeping someone in custody. The law also seeks to clarify the processes for review and appeal as well as to look at timelines within which actions are to be taken.

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