Public consultations on two key bills to start today

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By Theresa Goodwin

[email protected]

A special committee established to spearhead consultation on two bills currently before Parliament is seeking the public’s input in the discussions.

The Hemp Bill 2020 and the Criminal Proceedings Trial by Judge Alone Bill 2021 are listed for further consultation.

A statement from the Ministry of Legal Affairs said contributions would be welcomed from members of the public, plus the Bar Association and law enforcement officials at the forum being held at the Parliament Building from 10am today.

The Hemp Bill provides for the regulation and cultivation of hemp and hemp products, plus other related purposes. It also details the application process for licenses to operate a hemp business.

The Criminal Proceedings Bill would allow for criminal trials to take place without a jury in certain circumstances.

Last week, Attorney General Steadroy Benjamin moved a motion in Parliament for the establishment of a special select committee to allow for further dialogue on the new pieces of legislation.

At the opening of the 2021 law year, Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Dame Janice Pereira, urged territories under the court’s jurisdiction to consider implementing judge alone trials in light of the disruption caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the need to practise social distancing.

She explained that the time had come for trials to be conducted with only the presiding judge after the virus forced the cancellation of jury trials.

During last month’s budget debate, the AG said consideration was being give to judge alone trials, particularly in cases involving property. He said cases of murder, wounding with intent and bodily harm would still be decided by jurors.

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