Crime/Justice, Local news, News

Government Seeking To Amend Bail Act And Firearms Act

Published 11 May 2017

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The government has signaled its intention to move against an existing situation in which suspects of violent crime given bail reportedly end up committing other serious crimes while on bail.

Attorney General Vincent Byron is indicating that appropriate legislation will be tightened up to address those and other crime-related concerns.

The government wants to amend both the bail act and the firearms act.

“An assessment of trends over the past five years has revealed that criminals charged with capital felonies and are being granted bail have gone on to orchestrate and commit other capital offences. This alarming trend has led the government to seriously consider the possibility of amending the 2012 Bail Act to include a certain category of offences that will not be eligible for bail. Currently, Section 3 of the Bail Act gives discretion to the court to determine whether bail should be granted or denied, Sub Section 2 provides for partial exception. We have persons charged for certain offences, including murder then bail may only be granted by the High Court. 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 the granting of bail.”

Attorney General Byron says taking such action is necessary to reduce violent crime in the federation.

“The state therefore is seeking to remove the possibility of bail as an option in cases where capital offences with the use of the firearm has been committed. The intent is not to deprive anyone of due process of law, but to ensure that all persons adequately get protected under the law. The proposed amendment to the Firearms Act would entail increasing the penalty for a summary offence from a term of a maximum of ten years in certain cases to a term of imprisonment not exceeding twenty years. The penalty for indictable offences is a maximum of life imprisonment. The government of St. Kitts and Nevis is committed to the fight against crime and we will continue to bolster the laws of the Federation in keeping with this goal.”

Attorney General Byron was speaking at the prime minister’s press conference Wednesday.

Prime Minister Timothy Harris indicated there that another crime-related concern is the matter of tints on vehicles and rentals.

“Because that is a matter that has come to the Cabinet in terms of their use in many of the crimes, and therefore we have certain expectations, which I am sure in the meeting with the Chamber and the relevant authorities this matter will come again. It may require a legislative response to outlaw tints – indeed that has come in some of the discussions with the police, and the Commissioner of Police has advised that we be reluctant to allow anyone to go beyond now what are the legal norms, in relation to tinting.”

The tinting issue was also addressed by Police Commissioner Ian Queeley.

“The trend that we have been seeing in a number of crimes that have been committed was with the use of darkly tinted vehicles. At present the law requires thirty-five percent – that is the legal limit. We have advised or requested of the government to not allow persons to go beyond that limit, and I can say that as part of our increased operational tempo that you will see going forward, a focus will be on that. We have met with the rental companies, the managers/owners on St. Kitts and Nevis and we gave them a deadline to remove tints because the law also states no public service vehicles shall be tinted.”

The federation recorded its tenth homicide for the year so far on Tuesday, when 27 year old Gregory Mills was shot while driving in the Gillard Meadows area.

The police say two people are in custody assisting with the investigation.

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