Mon | Feb 19, 2018

Gov't reviewing proposed law giving prosecutors right of appeal

Published:Thursday | January 18, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Valerie Neita-Robertson.

Jamaican prosecutors who have long been clamouring for the right to challenge the outcome of cases in the courts could soon have their wish granted.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck has revealed that proposed legislation giving prosecutors the right of appeal is to be tabled in Parliament "within weeks".

The proposed law has been the subject of debate for several years, but Chuck indicated that a draft bill is now being reviewed by his legal team.

"The right of appeal for the prosecution is new legislation in Jamaica, especially appeal against sentence," he said.

Chuck revealed, too, that a draft has been sent to members of the Jamaican Bar Association (JAMBAR) for its perusal but said that there had been no response.

"The draft was sent to members of the private Bar for their comments before the end of the year, and up to this moment, I've had no comment from the defence Bar," the minister told The Gleaner yesterday.

Top criminal defence attorney Valerie Neita-Robertson, who heads the committee conducting the review, promised that in due course he would "get a considered and researched opinion".

However, Paula Llewellyn, the nation's chief prosecutor, welcomed the announcement but indicated that it would be a restricted right of appeal, which her office did not "visualise using very often".

"It is an idea whose time should have come a long time ago," Llewellyn declared, noting that the recommendation had been made by her predecessor, Kent Pantry.

"In terms of governance and best practices worldwide, it is the way forward in the 21st century," she added.

livern.barrett@gleanerjm.com