Calls for witness protection laws

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Commissioner of Police Wendel Robinson feels the time has come for the government to consider drafting laws to protect people who provide valuable information to the police. He said a virtual legislation exists on the Caricom website and this could be used as a guide for Antigua and Barbuda. “It is just a matter of tailoring it to a particular country and bringing it before parliament so that we in the Caribbean can protect our witnesses,”
Robinson said during a press conference yesterday to address crime and security in the country. He claimed that criminals within the country are trying their best to target people who are working with the police to solve several cases. Robinson admits that there is a system to address the concerns put forward by witnesses. However, he believes it would be better if the process is properly regulated.
“Nothing beats legislation because when there are legislations in place, there are ambits and areas in which the process will be regulated,” the top cop said before pleading: “Mister Attorney General, this is something that I am respectfully advocating for it to be put in place.”
The Commissioner of Police also used the occasion to reiterate a concern of the police regarding the granting of bail in the High Court to persons who are charged with serious crimes. He said the police are also particularly concerned about the delay of serious matters in the High Court.
“When a person is arrested and charged, for example, for a criminal offence of attempted murder, it might take between nine months to a year to have the matter sent to the High Court for committal proceedings. We are concerned that some of these matters are not disposed of in the High Court within five, six and sometimes seven years,” Robinson said.
According to him, when there is an undue delay, the defendant then applies for bail – and, when bail is granted. “Intelligence suggests that some of these same criminals, who are on bail for some very serious criminal offences are key suspects in other matters,” added as he suggested that “perhaps this is a matter for the judicial system and all of us to look at”.
(More in today’s Daily Observer)

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