Court strikes down amendments to Bail Act

(Jamaica Gleaner) The Supreme Court on Friday struck down controversial amendments to the Bail Act. The amendments allowed for persons charged with serious offences to be disqualified for bail for a maximum of 60 days.

Supreme Court judges Horace March, Patrick Brooks, and Leighton Pusey heard the motion and granted declarations that the amendments were unconstitutional and void.

Attorneys-at-law Norman Godfrey and Marcus Greenwood, who represented two persons who were being detained under the Bail Act, took the issue to the Supreme Court in May. They argued that the amendments were unconstitutional, inhumane, and interfered with the judge’s discretion to grant bail for certain offences, including murder.

They also argued that the amendments removed a citizen’s fundamental right to bail.

Godfrey, in commenting on the victory, said: “The Bail Act stands unaltered prior to the amendments in 2010.”

The government, in an attempt to curb the high crime rate, had amended the Bail Act in July last year for one year. The act was extended recently.

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