Senate passes video-evidence bill

Published: Saturday | November 24, 2012 Comments 0

Daraine Luton, Senior Staff Reporter

A LANDMARK bill was yesterday passed in the Senate which seeks to create the framework for witnesses to give testimony in criminal cases by way of video link.

The bill, which has been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration, also allows a video recording of an interview with a witness to be admitted into evidence.

In piloting the bill in the Upper House yesterday, Justice Minister Mark Golding said in the case where a video recording is taken, the witness has to face cross-examination in court.

"In the case of the live link, the cross-examination is done through the live-link technology like a videoconference," Golding said.

He told the Senate that the move to amend the Evidence Act would go a far way in assisting the administration of justice.

But Opposition Senator Alexander Williams urged that caution be taken with technology in courts, arguing that getting it wrong could lead to dire consequences.

NEED TO LIMIT LOOPHOLES

"I am putting myself in the shoes of an attorney in court who sees a television screen in front of him with a witness giving evidence. You don't know what is to the left of the screen or to the right of that screen that might be assisting the witness," Williams said.

The opposition senator argued that the accompanying regulations for the bill must seek to ensure no such mischief arises when the amended law is operationalised.

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