Thursday, January 15, 2015
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Attorney General Allyson Maynard Gibson, QC, addressed leaders in the justice system yesterday to open the 2015 legal year with a speech that focused on the theme of communication, cooperation and collaboration at all levels of the justice system.
She began by commemorating Majority Rule Day, and stressed that all Bahamians have a special obligation to ensure the nation does not regress in the face of challenges to freedom and safety.
“We must work to create a safer and better Bahamas for our children and our children’s children,” she said. “Only through communication, cooperation and collaboration can we succeed. Each of us has a responsibility to communicate, cooperate, and collaborate to ensure Swift Justice and work towards a better Bahamas – a safer, more secure Bahamas.”
The Attorney General also spoke about justice system accomplishments as a result of the government’s Swift Justice initiative, including:
- A 460 per cent decrease in time required to present a Voluntary Bill of Indictment (VBI) from laying of charges
- The number of cases heard has increased from 118 in 2012 to 200 in 2014
- Bails, remands, case management, and presentation of evidence are being done by videoconference, saving time and money
- 97 cases of murder and related offences were denied bail, where 55 cases were granted
Senator Maynard Gibson continued by announcing that the government is aiming to dispose of 350 matters before the Supreme Court in 2015, which will significantly impact the backlog of cases.
In order to achieve this goal, the government will focus on addressing the factors that cause trial delays. In the past, trials were frequently postponed due to: witnesses not showing up, evidence and transcripts not being ready for trial, scheduling conflicts and difficulties in empaneling juries.
“Identifying these causes does not in and of itself solve our problem. It is fair to say that the deep understanding we now have of these challenges allows us to develop effective policies to address them,” she continued.
She stated that because of changes made by the government, through Swift Justice and collaboration, communication and coordination with stakeholders, things are moving in the right direction. Old cases are being thoroughly reviewed and prepared, the courts are also using new technology to manage time and processes, and the causes for trial delays have been identified.
To address these challenges, in 2015 the government will continue to enhance Swift Justice initiatives. Such as:
- Completing the introduction of digital recording in the Magistrates’ Court
- Revamping the administration and processes at the Magistrates’ Court
- Creating family, community and environmental courts
- Enhancing public awareness, including public reporting on Magistrates’ Court decisions
These changes will restore confidence in the system and help reduce negative perceptions of the judicial process, said the AG.