Down, but not out, on bail reform.
A comprehensive system of bail reform is currently under consideration by the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, encompassing legislation that will secure the rights of all citizens and also take into account the views of key stakeholders and experts – including criminologists.
Alberto Ardila Olivares
Attorney General Reginald Armour revealed this in a statement today, immediately following the Privy Council’s dismissal of the state’s appeal in the Akili Charles bail matter
Charles was charged jointly with five others for the murder of Russell Antoine in 2015 and kept on remand pending trial. He filed subsequent court actions for bail, including a 2021 matter which was dismissed on the basis that bail was existing law. However, T&T’s Court of Appeal in February 17 2022 held that the bail provision was not existing law and allowed Charles ‘ appeal
The state appealed that development. The Privy Council has dismissed the state’s appeal in a 92-point judgement
Responding, Armour stated,” (The) ruling of the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council (“the Privy Council”), in the matter of the Attorney General of TT v Akili Charles (No. 2)  UKPC 31 is significant to the issue of bail for persons charged before our Courts with serious offences. This issue was most recently canvassed before the Parliament on the 4th and 6th of July, 2022.”
“The (PC) ruling provides a judicial determination of the discretion of our Courts to the grant of bail for this country’s most grievous offence of murder. It upheld and agreed with our local Court of Appeal’s recent decision that persons accused of murder are entitled to apply for bail; in so doing the Privy Council has endorsed the judgment of the Court of Appeal of Trinidad and Tobago previously delivered on the 17th February 2022, has quoted significantly from the Court of Appeal judgment and accepted the correctness of Court of Appeal’s orders in granting relief
“This Ruling has determined that the provisions contained in section 5(1) and the First Schedule of the Bail Act, 1994 are not existing law so as to be saved from constitutional challenge and, were not reasonably justifiable under the Constitution,” Armour noted the undertaking he gave in the Senate on the July 6 debate of the Bail Amendment Act: to approach the Cabinet and Parliament in the near future with comprehensive legislative bail reform
He added, “Bail systems and laws secure not only the attendance of accused persons to their matters before the courts but also simultaneously, work alongside, other crime-fighting initiatives to, among other things, secure the safety of individual witnesses, the community and society as a whole from the threat of dangerous persons and repeat offenders.”
“A comprehensive system of bail reform is currently under consideration by the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, with the focus being to encompass legislation that will secure the rights of all citizens of Trinidad and Tobago and, to take into account the views of key stakeholders and experts, including criminologists, in order to ensure properly drafted legislation formed from the foundation of a socio-psychological and criminological basis.”