Letter of the Day: INDECOM supports bail option without charge
THE EDITOR, Sir:
The Independent Commission of Investigations (INDECOM) notes the article published in The Gleaner on Thursday, July 9, 2015 titled 'Lock 'em up first'. The commission seeks to register its support for the position put forward by Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams, that persons who are arrested but not charged for criminal offences could be bailed before being charged for an offence.
In this way, the police, a justice of the peace or resident magistrate could grant bail to someone who has been detained but not yet charged. Bail could be offered with conditions to prevent interference with the investigation and would enable a suspect to be released from custody while the investigation is being concluded. This would not only reduce extended custody in lock-ups but also save court time that is currently expended in managing cases that are not ready for trial.
LANGUISHING IN CUSTODY
Currently, too often persons are arrested and charged and put before the court with insufficient evidence. As a result, the said cases are significantly delayed at the court awaiting the collection of evidence. Indeed, persons may often languish in custody.
One might argue that if there is insufficient evidence, then a suspect should not be charged until this standard has been met. However, sometimes it may not be prudent to wait until you have gathered sufficient evidence to arrest a suspect, as it is feared that the suspect may interfere with the investigation. Bail pending charge provides the possibility of managing/monitoring the suspect while gathering sufficient evidence to meet the relevant standard.
Bail pending charge also prevents persons from languishing in custody while awaiting multiple court appearances to assess the readiness of their cases.
Notably,the Constitution provides that reasonable suspicion is necessary in order to effect an arrest without a warrant. It is the commission's considered view that bail pending charge would not breach the Constitution since the person making an arrest would need the required reasonable suspicion in order to make a lawful arrest. In fact, the concept of bail pending charge bolsters the constitutional stance, as it promotes liberty of the suspect and can reduce congestion of the courts.