Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 21st 2013 Contents A5
July 21, 2013 www.guardian.co.tt Sunday Guardian
Date too short for new pretrial system
Continued from Page A1
Last August, the Administration
of Justice (Indictable Proceedings)
Act 2011 was partially proclaimed by
former president George Maxwell
Richards. The proclamation was
gazetted on August 30. The contro-
versial Section 34 of the act would
have allowed some accused to apply
for the charges against them to be
dropped if the offences in question
had been committed more than ten
The State has not been able to get
its house in order to facilitate the
transition of the remaining sections
of the act. Discussions had been tak-
ing place between Justice Minister
Christlyn Moore and Chief Justice
Ivor Archie to find the best way to
facilitate the transition, a T&T
Guardian story in February had stat-
ed.The transition would have seen all
preliminary inquiries at the magis-
trates courts being abolished and
replaced by sufficiency hearings tak-
ing place before masters of the High
Court. This was to come on stream
However, on December 31, 2012,
Moore, in a media release, revealed
the implementation date needed to
be pushed back after meeting with
various stakeholders. The implemen-
tation date was set for August 2.
However, due to a shortfall of judicial
and clerical staff, lawyers, masters
of the High Court and accommo-
dation for hearings, the implemen-
tation date has been stalled.
Faced with these hurdles, a pilot
project has since been proposed. The
act seeks to repeal and replace the
Indictable Offences (Preliminary
Inquiry) Act, Chap 12:01, by providing
a new system of pretrial proceedings
relating to indictable offences. It is
also geared towards removing the
backlog associated with the conduct
of preliminary inquiries and intro-
ducing a new pretrial system for seri-
ous criminal matters which would
reduce the pretrial waiting time.
Instead of preliminary inquiries in
the magistrates courts, there will be
If there is sufficient evidence or a
prima facie case is made out, then
the accused is committed to stand
trial, thus bypassing the magistrates
On Friday, Senior Counsel Israel
Khan, chairman/director of the Legal
Aid and Advisory Authority, con-
firmed he attended a meeting with
stakeholders last week to discuss the
setback but refused to divulge its
The meeting, Khan said, was
attended by officials of the T&T
Police Service, T&T Prison Service,
Director of Public Prosecutions and
Chief Justice Ivor Archie, among oth-
Khan: We don't have
things in place
"As far as the Legal Aid and Advi-
sory Authority is concerned, we can-
not meet the August 2 deadline
because we do not have the necessary
support staff and lawyers to facilitate
the sufficiency hearings. Remember,
they (accused) will ask for legal aid.
We don t have things in place," Khan
said on Friday.
The pilot project will now zero in
on cases in various districts, rather
than the whole country.
Khan said the agreed date was too
short to implement the new pretrial
T&T would now go back to the
old system of paper committals until
the State is ready.
A paper committal is when the
magistrate reads the brief and decides
if there is enough evidence to send
the case to trial.
It was agreed that ten additional
masters would be appointed to pre-
side over criminal matters.
"Something has to be done," a
senior legal source said.
Moore: Cabinet has
taken no decision
Contacted on Friday, Attorney
General Anand Ramlogan advised
the Sunday Guardian to speak with
Asked if Cabinet intended to
amend certain sections of the act,
Moore said Cabinet has not taken
any decision on that matter.
Questioned if anything was on the
cards when Cabinet resumes, Moore
said, "Cabinet has taken no such
Asked if any masters of the court
had been appointed, seeing that the
August 2 deadline was drawing close,
Moore said "the judiciary is respon-
sible for its staffing," and suggested
the Sunday Guardian direct its ques-
tions to Archie.
Madeira: A work in progress
The Judiciary s information and
protocol manager, Jones P Madeira,
on Friday said he knows the issue
was a work in progress.
"I think a statement was being
done about that...to give you all an
Madeira said "a lot of work is
under way" at the judiciary.
Asked about the pilot project,
Madeira said, "...in other words,
whoever is giving you the information
is giving you good information head-
ing. But I do not know what the
implications are for the implemen-
tation of the whole thing."
Madeira said he would find out
and give us an update.
Yesterday, Madeira said sourcing
information "at this moment" was
Seetahal: The law will
still not be in effect
Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal said
assuming the information was cor-
rect, she asked on Thursday and was
told that people were being trained
in the prosecutions department.
"Everyone is in anticipation that
this will come into effect on August
2."Seetahal said she sought answers
because the criminal bar had
"This is the first that I am hearing
about a pilot project, and I would be
interested to know how that is going
to operate because a pilot project
really does not have any legitimate
basis in law. What it can be is a
change in the practice. That would
mean practice and procedures the
judges are putting in place to kind
of ease into, maybe the system, when
the legislation comes into place."
Seetahal said this meant that the
law will still not be in effect.
"In other words, if what is envis-
aged now is merely a pilot project,
this means that the legislation would
not be proclaimed."
Seetahal said the legislation would
clearly indicate that there was no
longer to be any preliminary inquiry.
Seetahal said effectively preliminary
inquiries will be abolished.
"So if they are talking about a pilot
project, it means that you will still
have preliminary inquiries. The law
will still remain as it happened now,
that you have preliminary inquiries,
you can have some written state-
ments but there is still opportunity
for cross examination."
In the final analysis, Seetahal said,
any pilot project would not do away
with preliminary inquiries, which is
what the substance of the legislation
"As I see it, the pilot project could
only be in respect of the procedure
in trials at the Assizes."
Volney: Non implementation
will hit taxpayers
Former justice minister Herbert
Volney, who had predicted that the
country would have been disappoint-
ed with the failure to implement the
act, said he expected this to happen.
Volney said there was a lack of
leadership at the Ministry of Justice,
stating the country had not seen one
piece of legislation from this ministry
being implemented since his sack-
Volney admitted that in his haste
to have the act done, he got in trouble
with Section 34 being proclaimed
too early and was fired by the PM.
"So I am very sad indeed. The
Parliament has worked very hard to
get this piece of legislation togeth-
The non implementation, Volney
said, will continue to hit taxpayers
"Preliminary inquiries are an
expensive process. The only person
who benefits from the preliminary
inquiry system are lawyers. "
Volney said he brought the legis-
lation because some innocent people
were wrongly charged, imprisoned
and awaiting trial.
He said the electorate was prom-
ised a speedier justice initiative in
the PP s manifesto.
"I was well on the way to doing
that. By now court houses should
have been under construction. But
people have interfered in the pro-
curement processes and as a result,
everything has been delayed."
Attempts to reach DPP Roger Gas-
pard at his office on Friday were
would not be rushed
In his address at the opening of
the 2012-2013 law term last Sep-
tember, Archie had said the judiciary
would not be rushed through the
process of eliminating preliminary
Archie had said it was clear any
new system that was put in place
would have to absorb a huge influx
of new matters in addition to those
already in the system, for which tran-
sitional arrangements have to be
made. Referring to Section 34 of the
act, which had to be repealed after
its early proclamation, Archie said
such implementation ought to have
been done as a whole and not par-
Super Industrial Services Ltd (SIS)
has issued a full page advertisement in
today s paper (Page A4) denying that it
has been the recipient of special favours
by any government or its agencies.
A chart listed four agencies from which
SIS received contracts which was close
to $310 million from 2010 to 2012. They
were EFCL, NGC, Nipdec and Pure.
However, earlier this year another news-
paper reported that the company had
been awarded a $232.5 million contract
The board of directors said the company
had not been awarded contracts from the
Housing Development Corporation or
Udecott who were also its clients.
The "press statement" said the board
of directors wished to make public projects
awarded to the company by the Govern-
ment and its agencies over the last three
years and which had been the subject of
mischievous and erroneous media reports.
"While SIS is pleased to list among its
clients EFCL, Udecott, NGC, Nipdec and
Pure, the public is aware these companies
award contracts worth billions of dollars."
The statement said SIS had secured
less than one per cent of the contracts
awarded by the listed agencies for which
SIS had competitively and transparently
SIS gets $310m in contracts for three years
The controversial Section 34 would
have allowed people to have their
cases thrown out ten years after the
commission of the offence, once no
trial had begun.
There was a outcry, however, when
UNC financiers Ishwar Galbaransingh
and Steve Ferguson became the first
two individuals to apply to be
discharged soon after it was
This led to former president George
Maxwell Richards signing a
Proclamation Order repealing Section
34 last September.
Days after the repeal, Herbert
Volney was fired as justice minister by
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-
Bissessar for misrepresenting to
Cabinet the opinions of the Chief
Justice and Director of Public
Prosecutions (DPP) on the early
proclamation of Section 34.
In May, Galbaransingh and Steve
Ferguson suffered a convincing
defeat in the High Court after their
lawsuits challenging the
constitutionality of the repeal of
Section 34 were dismissed.
Galbaransingh and Ferguson had
insisted that their rights were
breached when Parliament repealed
They also argued that DPP Roger
Gaspard abused his power by
recommending to the Attorney
General that Section 34 be repealed
to save the criminal prosecutions in
the Piarco Airport fraud matters.
In May, Persad-Bissessar said she
regrets the controversial proclamation
and subsequent repeal of Section 34
which continues to haunt her People's
Links Archive July 20th 2013 July 22nd 2013 Navigation Previous Page Next Page