Basseterre, St. Kitts, November 07, 2023 (SKNIS): In a noteworthy announcement at today's (November 07) press conference with Cabinet Ministers at the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), the Honourable Garth Wilkin, Attorney-General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, outlined a comprehensive plan for criminal justice reform in St. Kitts and Nevis.
The proposed changes aim to expedite the legal process and deliver swift justice for the people of the Federation.
The Attorney-General detailed a set of ambitious measures designed to overhaul the current system. These include the potential elimination of paper committals in the Magistrate’s Court, reducing the number of jurors in criminal trials, introducing judge-only trials for specific offenses, and implementing plea deal legislation. These reforms are intended to streamline the criminal justice system, ensuring that those charged with offenses can expect a resolution of their cases within one to two years—a significant improvement on current timeframes.
Highlighting the urgency of these reforms, the Attorney-General pointed to examples within the Caribbean region where individuals remain on remand for an average of ten years.
“We do not want to follow in those footsteps, therefore, we are determined to move in the opposite direction,” said AG Wilkin. “My objective is to guarantee swift justice for everyone while in office.”
Another critical aspect of these reforms is the financial savings they are expected to bring. AG Wilkin spoke to the tens of millions of dollars spent in compensating individuals who have been held on remand for excessive periods, deeming it a mismanagement of public funds.
“By reforming our justice system, we can redirect those funds towards beneficial projects that contribute to creating a sustainable island state,” he said.
Attorney-General Wilkin also shared that insights and strategies from the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) Academy Conference, which took place in Barbados in October 2023, will be instrumental in these reforms. These proposals are set to be enacted by the summer of 2024, marking a new chapter for the legal framework of St. Kitts and Nevis.
These transformative changes, he said, signal the government's commitment to upholding the rights of its citizens through a more efficient and just legal system.
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