Friday, 02 December 2022 14:30

JFJ wants pre-charge bail provision removed from proposed Bail Act

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Human rights group Jamaicans for Justice (JFJ) says the section in the proposed Bail Act that allows for pre-charge bail should be removed as it could breach constitutional rights.
During her presentation to the Joint Select Committee on the Bail Act, 2022, JFJ Executive Director Mickel Jackson said Section 5 of the bill "may very well be deemed unconstitutional" as it could allow for an abuse of power by members of the state.
 
"And if it is that one’s rights to liberty is abused in the way that we have seen it, then we see that we may have certain constitutional challenges that may also cost taxpayers their money," she cautioned. 
 
Ms Jackson took issue with a possible scenario where a person on pre-charge bail may have to wait up to two weeks before they can go before a judge to determine if they are to be further remanded or released. 
 
"So, in other words, I don't have the financial resources to take up surety or bonds that have been levied against me, so I have to be in custody for two whole weeks before a judge reviews that bail decision and that is under Section 11, subsection 3 of the Bail bill that speaks to review of bail decisions," she explained.  
 
While she maintained that JFJ opposes the provision of pre-charge bail, Ms Jackson suggested that if the legislation were to go ahead, power to impose pre-charge bail on a person should not be granted to the police or a Justice of the Peace, but rather a judge.
 
"We believe that if the Joint Select Committee is going to continue with Section 5, that the powers and the authority should be limited to the courts," she insisted.
 
Under the proposed Bail Act 2022, a member of the police force or a Justice of the Peace has the power to impose such a condition without the suspect being placed before the courts.