Sunday, 2 October 2011

Getting bail in Trinidad and Tobago

Q: What are the laws concerning bail?



A: Human rights jurisprudence is interdisciplinary and its advocacy is a universal phenomenon. Human rights encompass civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights. One right recognized in human rights jurisprudence as pivotal in the promotion of a criminal justice system that satisfies international human rights standards is fair trial, which includes the right to bail. The institution of bail traces its origins to international conventions that protect and guarantee the fundamental rights of the individual to liberty, the presumption of innocence and the due process of the law.

In Trinidad and Tobago, the relevant legislation concerning bail is the Bail Act 1994, Chapter 4:60, which instructs:

5. (1) Subject to subsection (2), a Court may grant bail to any person charged with any offence other than an offence listed in Part I of the First Schedule.
(2) A Court shall not grant bail to a person who is charged with an offence listed in Part II of the First Schedule and has been convicted on three occasions arising out of separate transactions—
(a) of any offence; or
(b) of any combination of offences, listed in that Part, unless on application to a Judge he can show sufficient cause why his remand in custody is not justified.
(3) In calculating the three prior convictions referred to in subsection (2), only those convictions recorded within the last ten years shall be taken into account.

First Schedule
Exceptions to Person Entitled to Bail
Part I
Circumstances in which Persons are not entitled to Bail


Where a person is charged with any of the following offences:
(a) murder;
(b) treason;
(c) piracy or hijacking;
(d) any offence for which death is the penalty fixed by law.

Part II
Circumstances in which Persons MAY BE entitled to Bail


(a) trafficking in narcotics or possession of narcotics for the purpose of trafficking;
(b) possessing and use of firearms or ammunition with intent to injure;
(c) possession of imitation firearms in pursuance of any criminal offence;
(d) rape;
(e) sexual intercourse with a female under fourteen;
(f) buggery;
(g) shooting or wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm;
(h) robbery, robbery with aggravation, armed robbery;
(i) larceny of a motor vehicle;
(j) burglary and housebreaking;
(k) perverting or defeating the course of public justice;
(l) arson;
(m) an attempt to commit any offence listed in this Part or in Part I;
(n) receiving stolen goods.

Re: Section 5(2)- How many times have we read the news where a criminal is granted bail and then below we see an extensive criminal history. Are our Magistrates aware of our three-strike rule? I won't be surprised if they don't because this is a third world country where all kinds of nonsense is allowed to flourish.

We also need reform in making bailable offences directly related to the non-bailable offence of murder, non-bailable. i.e., possession of a firearm, shooting or wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm and robbery! Reform is necessary!!!!!

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