Black Immigrant Daily News
Minister of Legal and Constitutional Affairs, Marlene Malahoo Forte, is imploring persons who are released on bail not to abscond.
Clause 14 of the Bail Act (which is currently under review) states that a defendant commits the offence of absconding if he/she fails to surrender to custody at the appointed time or as soon as is possible thereafter.
Minister Malahoo Forte, who was speaking in a recent interview, said the offence of absconding can result in up to five years imprisonment in the Parish Court and up to seven years imprisonment in the Circuit Court.
“If you are granted bail, do not abscond. You have a duty to surrender to custody when you are given bail. Ultimately, you must return to stand trial or at any stage of the proceedings to follow,” she pointed out.
The Act also states that if a defendant, who absconds bail is convicted, he/she will be required to serve the sentence for absconding after serving the sentence for the offence for which he/she was found guilty.
Minister Malahoo Forte said the Bail Act gives persons the benefit of the doubt in circumstances where they may not be able to show up for bail.
“We understand that sometimes you may be setting out on your journey and something may happen. God forbid you get in an accident and end up in the hospital. If you fail to surrender to custody, you are given an opportunity to surrender at the next earliest opportunity because the date you are to go back will be set in the record,” she said. This forms part of the Government’s aim to balance the law with the rights of citizens.
“For any offence that has been created, you are given defences under the law, striking the right balance. So… when a decision is taken, let it not be said that the law was unfair to you. You have responsibility for your own conduct. No grant of bail should be treated lightly,” Minister Malahoo Forte said.