CITIZENS ACTION FOR PRINCIPLE AND INTEGRITY (CAPI) is expressing concern for the practice of the police in demanding verification of residence for citizens offering themselves as surety for bail.
According to convenor Hugh Fagan, this practice is proving a hindrance to citizens in realizing their right to bail under the constitution. Further, such requirement by the police serves only to frustrate the bail process and render the recommendation by the Justice of the Peace (JP) of persons for surety redundant, as the statutory form (Form 3) already requires the JP to verify the surety’s address.
CAPI states there is no basis in law for the police to be demanding verification of address in such an arbitrary manner as the provision of a utility bill doesn’t guarantee the location of any surety. The unfortunate practice of the police will also add to the list of persons exempted from offering themselves for surety, certainly, many tenants whose utility bills do no bear their names will not be qualified as per the police dictates.
CAPI is also of the view that this demand of the police is illegal as there is nothing in the regulations or the substantive Bail Act requires such provision. The relevant section of the Act reads;
(3) Where a surety is required, a declaration in the prescribed form shall be made by a Justice of the Peace or a member of the Jamaica Constabulary Force not below the rank of Sergeant, a minister of religion or a principal of an educational institution other than a pre-primary school, as to his knowledge of that surety's address and good character.
(4) A Court, Justice of the Peace or police officer shall not refuse a surety unless that surety is exempt pursuant to regulations made under section 21 or is, in the opinion of the Court, otherwise unsuitable for the purpose.
CAPI is calling on the Minister of Justice, Mark Golding to immediately intervene in this matter as citizens are being frustrated in asserting their rights in obtaining bail. Further, the Attorney General, Patrick Atkinson should be invited to make a ruling on this frustrating practice by members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force.
Posted By :Hugh Fagan
Company Name : CITIZENS ACTION FOR PRINCIPLE AND INTEGRITY
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