PRIME Minister Andrew Holness has assured that the Government intends to pursue its proposal to amend the Bail Act to remand individuals accused of committing murder.

“It is not the intention of the Government to, in any way, diminish human rights,” the prime minister told the Jamaica Observer in a one-on-one interview at Jamaica House on Tuesday. “But the Government has to weigh the balance of human rights on a whole, and the human rights of those persons who are being murdered by persons who get bail and laugh in the face of justice and law enforcement, and go out and commit more crimes,” Holness added.

The prime minister said he understood the attorneys’ interest in ensuring that their clients can get bail, and that bail is part of the legal rights of their clients. However, he suggested that the proposed measure was necessary to deal with repeat offenders.

“The society has to be practical and reasonable and what we have done is to put the issue out there so that the views of the attorneys who have a perspective can contend with the hundreds of Jamaicans who have suffered from the criminal activities of repeat offenders,” he said.

“It is not just one view that should hold pre-eminence,” Holness insisted.

He indicated that Attorney General Marlene Malahoo Forte would be dealing with the issue in Parliament.

“I don’t want to pre-empt the attorney general, but we have given narrow parameters for how we will seek adjustments to the Bail Act, and it will be for those crimes involving murders,” he stated.

Making his presentation in the 2016/17 Budget Debate in the House of Representatives on May 24, the prime minister said the Government would be amending the Bail Act so that people charged with murder will be ineligible for bail in some circumstances.

He told the House of Representatives that the Government would be taking “bold and decisive” steps to significantly reduce crime and violence in the country, particularly against the most vulnerable.

Also among the measures he suggested was a special process within the court system for the prosecution and trial of murders, which will serve to expedite the cases.
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