Wed | Jan 16, 2019

Trafficking in persons act amended, judges can now conduct trials without jury

Published:Sunday | February 4, 2018 | 11:17 AM

The House of Representatives has passed amendments to the Trafficking in Persons Act that will allow a judge to try offences without a jury.

The amendments come amid complaints by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) about a number of irregularities in the trial of persons charged under the legislation.

Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, who piloted the amendments through the House, pointed to the case of Hermalinda Parker and her co-accused, which was heard before the Home Circuit Court.

At the end of the trial, the jury returned with a unanimous verdict of not guilty.

However, it was later revealed that three jurors voted guilty and three others voted not guilty.

A retrial has been ordered in the case.

According to Mr Chuck, the ODPP has indicated that such irregularity is among the challenges faced by prosecutors in complex cases involving criminal networks and trafficking cases where jurors and witnesses are exposed to high risk of intimidation and influence.