MONDAY DECEMBER 02, 2013, KINGSTOWN, ST. VINCENT AND THE GRENADINES – Today proved to be a significant day in the Parliament of St. Vincent and the Grenadines with the successful passage of the Witness (Special Measures) Bill 2013.
Minster of Legal Affairs and Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines Dr. The Honourable Ralph Gonsalves piloted the Bill, with lively contributions coming from Senators Vynette Frederick and Dr. Linton Lewis for the Opposition, with Senators Jomo Thomas and Camillo Gonsalves for the Government, respectively.
The Witness Special Measures Bill seeks to make provisions for the protection of witnesses in criminal proceedings. It comprises four parts, twenty-nine Sections, and a Schedule which would be very helpful to practitioners.
According to Prime Minister Gonsalves, the Bill is one of several Bills which has come before the House over the past dozen or so years to alter Procedural Law and Substantive Law, aimed at strengthening the criminal justice system so as to enhance citizens’ protection.
The Bill also affords protection of all rights to all including those who are to be charged for criminal offences. Prime Minister Gonsalves noted that “several loopholes exist in our criminal laws”, with a huge number of crimes committed being trans-national. He noted that the greatest contributor to organized violence; one of the greatest impulses to organized violence is drug trafficking and its allied money laundering.
This bill speaks to giving evidence by live link, video recorded evidence, evidence in private among other types of proceedings.
This bill seeks to protect children, witnesses who may have to migrate, tourist and visitors who may have been a witness to a crime or a victim of a crime.