Home News Jamaica’s Lawmen Want to Arrest People Even Without Sufficient Evidence

Jamaica’s Lawmen Want to Arrest People Even Without Sufficient Evidence

Jamaicans are calling the utterances of Jamaica’s Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams ridiculous.

The lawmen have proposed an amendment to the Bail Act which would allow the police to arrest anyone even without sufficient evidence, as part of a wider move to stem the rising tide of violent crimes, The Gleaner reports.

image: Jis
image: Jis News

“We also want to, hopefully, get an amendment to the Bail Act, so that even persons who are not charged for criminal offences can be arrested and bailed prior to charge,” Commissioner of Police Dr Carl Williams said last Monday.

The proposed amendment, which has been widely criticized, is now before the Legal Reform Unit of the Ministry of Justice, and according to the commissioner, it is the subject of active consideration.

This is not the first amendments are proposed. In 2011, the Supreme Court struck down proposed amendments to the Bail Act, which were made by Parliament the year before, according to the local paper.

Here’s the big hole in his quest

“You cannot effect an arrest on anyone under the Constitution of Jamaica unless you have a warrant, which would be that the person is wanted for a crime, or you have reasonable and probable cause that the person has committed an offence. In the absence of that, any form of arrest would be illegal, unconstitutional, and the police would be in serious trouble,” Attorney-at-law Hugh Wildman told The Gleaner.

This is clearly a Human Rights violation. It seems the Commissioner is following on the trail of the U.S. I suppose indefinite detention without trial is the next move?

“Bail has nothing to do with arrest; that is where the commissioner seems to get it wrong. Bail is after you have been properly arrested and charged then you are entitled to bail. You can’t merge the two things,” Wildman asserted. “It is an ill-conceived position by the commissioner,” He added. “They don’t understand the law and the Constitution of Jamaica.”

Among other things, the paper reports, the amendments provided for the detention of a suspect on gun and murder offences for 60 days without bail. Additionally, accused were being required to satisfy the court as to why they should be released on bail, a provision that runs counter to the Constitution. They could be held for up to 72 hours before being charged, instead, of the 24-hour provided for by the Constitution.

With the high rate of crime in Jamaica, I can imagine the frustration of the police, but this is not an effective solution. The solution to the nation’s crime problem cannot be returning to merely throwing people they’ve suspected of a crime in jail. Proper investigative techniques combined with improved forensic gathering is the way forward. Yes, it will take time but the rewards are long term.