Chuck proposes harsh sentencing for criminals

JUSTICE Minister Delroy Chuck says that both the Government and the public are expecting timely trials, strong pronouncements from the bench, as well as harsh sentences, where appropriate, as the consequences of criminal activities in Jamaica.

“At the end of the day, the executive and the country are looking to the judiciary to play a significant role in sending the clearest signal to criminals that crime has severe detrimental consequences,” the minister said in his contribution to the 2021/22 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday.

He noted that, while commendable strides were being made towards meeting Chief Justice Bryan Sykes’s goal of a justice system that is among the best in the world, his ministry would like to see definitive timelines for various processes in the courts.

This, he said, can be accomplished by “timely trials, strong pronouncements from the bench and, in appropriate cases, harsh sentences that send a powerful and emphatic denunciation of criminal activities”.

Chuck said that in the Supreme Court, with the strides being made to improve the justice system, no trial matter should remain there longer than three years, and 75 per cent of the matters should be completed within two years. Uncontested divorces should be completed within six months, and probate and administration of estates should be completed within four months.

“As you would realise from the actual performance data shared, targets are now being achieved in some cases, but it is the isolated circumstances that receive attention from the public and the media and to which we must pay attention,” the minister stated.

“Whilst we see the enormous improvements in the courts, and see even greater improvements forthcoming, we cannot ignore the frustration of litigants and the members of the public when a few cases are highlighted that seem to undermine how well the court is functioning,” he said.

He underscorted the fact that some Jamaicans question why bail is granted to individuals charged with murder and other serious offences and pointed out that many accused individuals continue to commit crimes while on bail.

“The judiciary should be aware that the police are very critical of the decision to grant bail, and perhaps an explanation should be given why bail is granted so the prosecution can appeal. By the same token, when a decision is refused, an explanation can be given so the defence can appeal,” he noted.

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