Four of the country's most senior attorneys who are legislators were, for the most part, missing in action from critical meetings of a special joint select committee which examined the committal proceedings bill.
Senators K.D. Knight and Tom Tavares-Finson, as well as Attorney General Patrick Atkinson and former Justice Minister Delroy Chuck, hardly showed for the six meetings the committee held.
Knight, who has been a legislator since 1989, attended only one of the six committee meetings, an attendance record which mirrors Tavares-Finson's.
Chuck and Atkinson attended only two meetings each.
The work of the committee was enhanced by the stellar attendance record of Chairman Senator Mark Golding, Senator Wensworth Skeffery and Member of Parliament (MP) Arnaldo Brown, who attended all six meetings.
Senators Lambert Brown, Arthur Williams, as well as MPs Raymond Pryce and Sharon Ffolkes-Abrahams, attended five meetings.
The committee had six meetings between October 3, 2012 and February 7 this year.
ISSUES TO ADDRESS
The Committal Proceedings Bill seeks to address, among other things, issues in a high crime environment, where intimidation of witnesses has become a major challenge to the justice system.
The bill, when passed into law, is expected to eliminate the need for witnesses to give their testimony at the preliminary enquiry stage, as committal proceedings will be conducted based on the written statements of witnesses taken by the police.
At present, preliminary enquiries pose challenges to the Resident Magistrate's Courts. The 2011 Economic and Social Survey showed that there were 14,376 preliminary examination cases brought forward while 45,541 Resident Magistrate's Courts' summary cases were brought forward.
The committee has said that the time taken up by preliminary enquiries contributes to the backlog of cases in the Resident Magistrate's Courts.