A bill to amend the Bail Act, if passed, would allow magistrates to grant bail in various drug and firearm-related offenses that they are unable to now.
The Bail Amendment Bill (2019) was tabled in the House of Assembly yesterday.
According to the bill, it would allow a magistrate to grant bail for: the possession of prohibited weapons and ammunition; unlawful shortening of guns; any offense mentioned in the third schedule to the Criminal Procedure Code; unlawful possession of a revolver; unlawful possession of a firearm or ammunition; unlawful possession of a firearm or ammunition with an intent to supply; unlawful possession of a gun and assault with a deadly or dangerous instrument or means.
It would also allow a magistrate to grant bail for the possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply.
A 2011 amendment to the Bail Act removed magistrates’ authority to grant bail for: murder; armed robbery; rape; attempted murder; possession of firearms designed to discharge explosives; possession of automatic weapons; possession of firearms or ammunition intended to endanger life or cause serious injury to property; possession of firearms with the intent to commit an indictable offense; possession of dangerous drugs with intent to supply; and number of other offenses under the Sexual Offences Act.
The Bail Amendment Bill (2019) would require a surety to use the bail management system to make his or her statutory declaration.
Chief Justice Bryan Moree told The Nassau Guardian that an automated bail management system is expected to be launched by the end of January. He said the new system will allow individuals to apply for bail with their biometrics at kiosks in various locations across New Providence.
“This is going to turn the whole process of bail applications, whether or not you’re represented by a lawyer, into an automated system,” he said.
“It’s going to allow us to expedite the hearing of these applications. It’s also going to allow us to better monitor and track those persons in the system.
“It’s going to involve installing kiosks at the correctional center, at the criminal registry and at a number of the larger police stations on New Providence.
“And persons are going to be able now to apply for bail, whether they are representing themselves or not, through their biometrics. They’re going to go to a kiosk, fill out all the necessary information.”