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Basseterre, St. Kitts, May 11, 2017 (SKNIS): The Government of St. Kitts and Nevis is set to enact legislation and introduce draft legislation that will enhance public safety and impose stiffer penalties for persons who run afoul of the law.


On Wednesday May 10, Attorney General and Minister of Justice and Legal Affairs, Honourable Vincent Byron Jr., outlined that a list of recommendations was received from the Royal St. Christopher and Nevis Police Force (RSCNPF) designed to increase “efficiency in the criminal justice sphere, further empower law enforcement and strengthen the deterrent effect of criminality.”


Amendments to the Bail Act and Firearms Act were among the recommendations identified by the attorney general as he made a presentation during the Prime Minister’s Monthly Press Conference held at Government Headquarters in Basseterre.


“An assessment of trends over the past five years has revealed that criminals charged with capital felonies and have been granted bail have gone on to orchestrate and commit other capital offences,” he said. “This alarming trend has lead the government to seriously consider the possibility of amending the 2012 Bail Act to include a certain category of offences that would not be eligible for bail.


“The recent trend is quite troubling and seems to require a proactive approach in the fight against crime. Consequently, the police force has recommended that the Bail Act be amended to tighten the framework and to address persons charged with capital offences involving firearms under a different scheme rather than granting bail.”


Attorney General Byron Jr. said that people are presumed innocent until proven guilty. However, he added that “the presumption of innocence and the protection of the innocent persons in our society must be balanced in order to achieve the constitutional mandates of peace, order and good government.”


Also included among the suggestions from the RSCNPF is the enactment of previously passed legislation such as the Justice Protection Act of 2012, and the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Act of 2013.


The use of DNA is common in crime fighting around the world and allows authorities greater certainty when filing charges or securing a conviction. Similarly, it can also help to clear an innocent person.   


In terms of new bills or amendments, the attorney general said that closer scrutiny will be paid to the movement of criminals.


“The regulatory framework for advanced passenger information will be strengthened by a bill to be debated in the next meeting of parliament. This should help ensure that the movement of persons who have committed crimes is subject to greater monitoring and control not just nationally, but regionally and internationally,” Honourable Byron Jr. said.


The minister of justice and legal affairs added that the government will remain committed to the rule of law as that is an important hallmark of a successful democratic society. He added that in respecting and upholding the laws of the land there must be regular consideration for the rights of the individual against the collective demands of the state.

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