All alleged offenders in custody appearing in the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court were remanded to the prison yesterday because there was no Justice of the Peace (JP) to approve their bail documents.
A notice posted at the courthouse stated, “Please note that today Monday 29th July 2019 Clerk of the Peace services at the San Fernando Magistrates’ Court (old) will not be available. We apologise for any inconvenience.”
Describing the situation as madness, former security minister, attorney Subhas Panday, said one of his clients was granted cash bail on a kidnapping charge, but would have to “ride the truck.”
Panday said neither the attorneys nor the magistrates were aware that the JPs services would not be available.
However, he subsequently learned that the JPs had some kind of training exercise which will be ongoing until Wednesday. There were more than 12 charge cases before the court.
Panday added: “There is not a single clerk of the peace or justice of the peace to give effect of the bail. So, therefore, they have all of them (accused) pack up there inside of the cell.
Something is wrong with the administration of justice. How could the head of the administration of the judiciary allow this situation to happen? If they knew they were taking the JPs away, why it is they did not make arrangements for people to get bail?”
He said this means that those in custody, who have been granted bail, will have to stay in custody until Friday.
Describing the situation as “chaotic, incompetence and efficiency on the part of the administration of justice,” he said the role of the justices of the peace and clerks of the peace is a very important one and arrangements should have been for accused persons to access bail.
“Something is really wrong with the system and they clog up the jail for the whole weekend and they will further clog up the jail.
The court will clog up the jail for the next few days because nobody getting bail Monday, Tuesday Wednesday. You cannot get bail in the court because of some training system it have and they make no arrangements to put things in place.”
Carl Francis, Court Protocol and Information Manager, was said to be in a meeting.
Guardian Media sent him an email seeking comment, but up to press time, no response was forthcoming.
Reporter: Sascha Wilson