Saturday, April 20, 2024

PM Stuart hit for six?

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PRIME MINISTER FREUNDEL STUART reportedly complained (SATURDAY SUN, June 4) that he was “hit for six” on hearing that people accused of murder have had the benefit of their constitutional right to be presumed innocent by being granted bail.

Now if he doesn’t want to be treated so cavalierly, he really must stop bowling full tosses by pleading ignorance. As a Queen’s Counsel who, apparently, specialised inter alia in criminal law, and a former attorney general, he must know that there is a right to bail defeasible under certain conditions. The “seriousness of the offence” – here murder – is simply a factor to be taken into account.

The Prime Minister must also know that constitutionally an accused’s trial must proceed within a reasonable time – and that if a man languishes on remand for many months, and even years, awaiting his trial, there comes a point when he must be released, if only on bail, and that applies to a man charged with murder as well as for any other alleged offence.

Again, if he doesn’t know that a principal cause for granting bail because of delay is the contumacy or incompetence of the prosecution service, including the police, then, frankly, like Rip van Winkle, he must have slept through many years.

Given his other remarks about attorneys failing to “lead” clients away from litigation, and thus unnecessarily clogging the system, and Joe Public’s irreversible disdain for attorneys as a class which is common knowledge, it’s difficult not to conclude that the Prime Minister was cynically playing to the gallery despite his disclaimers.

Some weeks ago, with hundreds of others, I “marched for justice”. I did so not as a member of any political party but because “justice” is a core principle of Christian belief which we must uphold without fear or favour. In the light of what Mr Stuart said last Friday at Ilaro Court, sadly it would seem that the march was very timely indeed.

– (REV.) CLIFFORD HALL

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