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AG lauds successive efforts to reduce court backlog

There was a 39 percent increase in the resolution of serious criminal cases in The Bahamas, a recent report by the Task Force on Justice revealed.

Former Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson contributed to the report, which was released last month.

The Bahamas was highlighted once in the report under the section “The Path for Justice for All”.

“Across the world, justice systems are exploring new ways to put people and their needs first,” report read.

“Their efforts provide models for reformers elsewhere.”

It added, “Countries are also opening up their justice systems to innovation. Reforms in The Bahamas made greater use of technology to streamline processes, increasing the resolution of serious criminal cases by 39 percent.”

Attorney General Carl Bethel said the report illustrates the improvements that have been made to the court backlog in The Bahamas.

“What many people don’t appreciate is that The Bahamas at present, as a result of the efforts of successive governments, has reached a stage where our backlog is considerably less than every other country in this region,” Bethel said.

“The time from arraignment to trial is considerably less in The Bahamas than anywhere else. In countries such as, well, I won’t name one, but one farther south, the minimum wait time is 12 years in jail because nobody there has evoked the same constitutional provisions that have been evoked in The Bahamas with respect to habeas corpus…

“[Whereas] in The Bahamas we are down to about two years and, of course, we have very generous bail provisions in our law that are applied by the judiciary.”

The attorney general said the government intends to introduce new technology to assist in case management in the Supreme Court and further increase the resolution of serious criminal cases in The Bahamas.

He said the judiciary system “has embraced the curia system” which is also used by the Caribbean Court of Appeals and the Jamaican Supreme Court.

“It enables all of the judges to be in one central location, and, so, it will greatly assist in case management,” Bethel said.

“The effective delivery in trials and the effective allocation of resources between different judges and different courts. This is the initiative we are pursuing aggressively at the present time. Additionally, we are building a new criminal court and another civil court.”

The court system has been experiencing serious backlog issues since 2002.

In 2012, Maynard-Gibson disclosed in the Senate that she believed over 400 people charged with murder since 2002 were still on bail.

In March, Supreme Court Justice Bernard Turner said an outside entity has been chosen to evaluate the Supreme Court’s system in order to address ongoing backlog issues.

Staff Reporter at The Nassau Guardian
Jasper Ward started at The Nassau Guardian in September 2018. Ward covers a wide range of national and social issues.
Education: Goldsmith, University of London, MA in Race, Media and Social Justice
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