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New minister plans to boost justice system
Newly-appointed Minister of Justice Christlyn Moore delivered her maiden speech on Monday as the budget debate began in the Senate. The Tobagonian attorney was sworn in as Justice Minister on September 26 after the firing of Herbert Volney. Moore, in her inaugural speech, promised not only swift justice but wants to build on the work done by her predecessor.
She promised new courthouses, an offender rehabilitation and prison radio project, a new prison for Tobago, drug courts and amendments to the UK West Indian Prisons Act in the 2013 fiscal year. Her presentation also addressed the controversial Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011, from which Section 34 was recently repealed.
She said: "The Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2012, Act 15 of 2012, seeks to ensure that the system will become more efficient and effective. “Once proclaimed in its entirety, it will abolish the system of preliminary enquiries and replace it with a sufficiency hearing.” She said the Administration of Justice (Electronic Monitoring) Act 2012 also would see the introduction of electronic monitoring.
Moore said in the 2012 fiscal year the ministry worked to introduce a pilot project and Cabinet has approved an initial structure for the Electronic Monitoring Unit, staff recruitment and had placed expressions of interest for the supply of the device. She said with the legislation's proclamation next year the ministry would hire a service provider to implement the pilot project.
She said the over $55 million allocated to the ministry in the budget would be used for amendments to the DNA, The Administration of Justice Act 2012, which would see the implementation of a National Forensic DNA Databank and the establishment of a DNA register to be kept at each police station.
Amendments, she said, also would be made to the Legal Aid and Advice Act 2012. Once assented to, she added, people with disposable capital of $20,000 (from $5,000) and disposable income of $36,000 (from $7,000) would be able to access legal aid representation. Legal Aid attorneys, Moore said, would receive a salary increase through the amended act.
Moore said the Justice Ministry had begun work to build judicial centres in Tobago, Sangre Grande, Penal/Siparia and Carlsen Field, Chaguanas. She also made special reference to Tobago and promised a new prison for the island. Moore also said for the 2013 fiscal year $24,500,000 would be allocated to upgrade the Carrera Prison, the Maximum Security Prison and the Youth Training Centre, both located at Arouca.
She said she has asked technocrats for an action plan for the development of a female juvenile facility.
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