Cabinet wants August 2013 proclamation date

Administration of Justice Act

By Joel Julien

THE start date for the remaining sections of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011 should be pushed back by seven months for logistical reasons, the Cabinet has advised President George Maxwell Richards.

This was stated yesterday in a release from the Ministry of Justice.

Richards originally proclaimed that tomorrow would be the date on which sections 3(2), 3(3), 4 to 31, 33, 35 and schedules 1 to 5, 7 and 8 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011 should come into effect.

Cabinet has now advised that Richards should pronounce the new date for these sections to come into operation as August 2, 2013.

Cabinet's decision to have the date pushed back was made following consultations with Justice Minister Christlyn Moore and various stakeholders in the criminal justice system.

"Upon taking office, the Minister of Justice Christlyn Moore held consultations with and invited comments from a number of stakeholders in the criminal justice system; those with responsibility for implementing the provisions of the Act and those to be impacted by its implementation," the release stated.

"These stakeholders, which included the Judiciary of Trinidad and Tobago, the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Law Association, the Criminal Bar Association and the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service, submitted their comments in writing," it stated.

"All the stakeholders indicated they would not be ready for tomorrow and called for more time.

"The stakeholders each indicated that they would not be ready by January 2, 2013, the date the Act would come into effect, and those stakeholders charged with implementing the Act indicated that they required more time to complete training, build internal capacity and upgrade plant, all matters necessary to allow for the successful implementation of the legislation," the release stated.

As a result of the call for more time the start date for several sections of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011 will now be August 2013, the release stated.

The Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011 is expected to remove preliminary enquiries from the magistrates courts and replace them with sufficiency hearings.

The Act is aimed at speeding up the process in which criminal matters are heard in the High Court and also reduce the workload of magistrates.

Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011 was prematurely proclaimed on August 31 last year.

This section of the Act would have allowed accused persons with offences committed more than ten years old to apply to have the charges be dropped.

Section 34 was eventually repealed and former justice minister Herbert Volney was fired by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar for its early proclamation.

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