Don’t arrest, then investigate
THE EDITOR, Sir:
Crime-fighters have found cheap recourse in the states of public emergency.
When a judge is considering bail, few of the most critical factors, aside from the likelihood of the accused showing up for his trial, are whether the accused is likely to interfere with the witnesses, the strength of the evidence, and the nature and seriousness of the offence.
The former, in my view, sometimes take more precedence in its denial, especially where the imposition of certain conditions cannot remedy the ill.
The approach of arresting then investigating has only criminalised and destroyed the lives of so many innocent Jamaicans who happen to live in certain crime-ridden communities. Detaining a person for three to four months under the impression that he or she is suspected of committing a crime is counterproductive and discriminatory. Get the evidence, then arrest. Don’t waste the court’s already meagre resources.
The argument that witnesses are afraid to come forward because the accused is ‘dangerous’ is oversubscribed and, in my view, the best line to bank on in the scheme of abuse power. How does the accuse know I came forward and gave a statement? Shouldn’t this be a confidential thing until the matter is brought before court, at which time he/she would have been arrested?
It is so unfortunate that criminal-defence attorneys-at-law are sometimes seen as the villains owing to the nature of their duties, an unfair and misinformed view held by many. Being watchdogs of the justice system, it is their duty to ensure that due process is followed at all times and that the accused is treated fairly.
If state agents meticulously fulfil their mandate (investigation and general policing), this would be reflected in the rates of conviction.
ALEXANDER L. SHAW
Attorney-at- l aw