The Office of the Attorney General has made more progress in its proposed move to secure the release of some non-violent inmates due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with some expected to have their freedom from as early as this week.
The AG’s Office sought to give an update on the status of the process in a press release issued on Saturday night.
According to the release, a hearing of a lawsuit, seeking to facilitate the process, took place via video conferencing, before Justice Lisa Ramsumair-Hinds on Saturday.
During the hearing, the Commissioner of Prisons was ordered to submit lists of convicted persons, who may benefit from the measure to National Security Minister Stuart Young for the Mercy Committee to consider and recommend Presidential pardons, under Sections 87 and 89 of the Constitution.
Ramsumair-Hinds also ordered that the list of remand inmates, who were previously granted bail but unable to access it, be sent to Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard, SC, and Chief Public Defender Hasine Shaikh for their consideration.
After Gaspard and Shaikh consider the information, they will be required to help facilitate the variation of bail for those who qualify, through the newly formed Bail Review Court of the Criminal Division.
The Office of the Commissioner of Police was ordered to provide the criminal records of both groups of inmates, which will be also taken into consideration in determining whether they qualify.
A next hearing of the case before Ramsumair-Hinds is scheduled to take place at 2 pm, today.
When the proposal was announced by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, two weeks ago, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi suggested that approximately 400 prisoners would benefit.
The measure mainly affects adults and children, who have been convicted of summary and indictable offences and who were sentenced to under a year in prison or have less than a year remaining on a higher sentence. Persons sentenced for failing to pay child maintenance are also covered.
Persons, who have not been convicted of such offences, but who were remanded as they were unable to access the bail initially set for them, are also included.
It will not apply to persons convicted of or on remand for a series of scheduled offences, which carry sentences of over 10 years in prison.
Such offences include those under the Anti-Gang Act, Offences Against the Person Act, the Dangerous Drugs Act, the Kidnapping Act, the Sexual Offences Act, the Anti-Terrorism Act, Trafficking in Persons Act and the Firearms Act.
While the AG’s Office suggested that persons who qualify based on its definitions should be facilitated, it noted that some can still be excluded nonetheless.
The AG’s Office is being represented by Fyard Hosein, SC, Ravi Rajcoomar, Tenille Ramkissoon, Jerome Rajcoomar, Aadam Hosein, and Ryan Grant. Attorney Netram Kowlessar represented the Prisons Commissioner, while John Heath represented the High Court Registrar. The T&T Police Service (TTPS) was represented by its Head of Legal Christian Chandler, while Sharlene Jaggernauth represented the Children’s Authority.