New court procedures are now in effect for persons who find themselves in trouble with the law.
This comes as the Ministry of Health and Wellness continues its investigations and contact tracing, after a number of prison officers and prisoners tested positive for COVID-19.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Dale Marshall, explained that Government was adopting a policy of “no person in, no person out”, as it relates to how persons would be treated when they found themselves before the law courts.
Speaking during a televised and streamed COVID-19 update, Mr. Marshall said the Barbados Defence Force has stood up its secure prison facility to facilitate persons arrested for offences such as firearm possession and homicide. “This is not new. This was done when we had the prison fire,” he stated.
Meanwhile, Mr. Marshall explained that individuals who were brought before the court for bailable offences would be granted bail where possible, with the imposition of “fairly stringent conditions”.
“You can have bail with reporting provisions which can sometimes be as effective as keeping a person on physical remand in [HMP Prison] Dodds. So, a person may be asked to report on a daily basis to a police station,” the Attorney General pointed out.
Noting that he was in discussion with the Chief Justice, he stated that court cases involving individuals currently on remand would be deferred “for some time”.
He explained that part of the challenge was that though the facility was there to facilitate court appearances via the Zoom platform at the prison, it was a process that required a level of interaction and dedicated activity by the prison resources.
“We feel it would be in the best interest of all those concerned if those matters should be deferred for a short time,” he said. That, Mr. Marshall stated, meant that individuals on remand in criminal cases would not be attending court.
At present, over 1,000 persons at HMP Dodds, including prisoners, prison officers and civilian staff have been tested, with 161 confirmed tests so far, and others waiting to be tested a second time.