Symister says AG’s withdrawal of Amendment was a strategic move, but cannot stop challenges by persons unlawfully arrested

Attorney-at-law Leon Chaku Symister says the withdrawal of the Bill to amend the Criminal Prosecutions Service Act, last Monday, April 17, was a political, strategic move by Attorney-General Steadroy “Cutie ” Benjamin, since the matter cannot be appealed.

Controversy arose over the legislation – passed in 2017, but effected on November 15, 2021 – after attorney Wendel Robinson filed a writ of habeas corpus in the High Court on behalf of a client, who was being held at His Majesty’s Prison.

Robinson also challenged the authority of the commissioner of police to bring charges against anyone without first obtaining the written consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) – as the law prescribes.   

This, apparently, was not being done and carried implications for the cases brought by the Police since 2021.

It was later revealed that, at the last minute, Attorney-General Benjamin had placed the proposed amendment on the Order Paper for Monday’s scheduled sitting. 

However, when the Lower House convened, Benjamin indicated that the Bill was being withdrawn.  He said the Government intends to appeal the High Court decision in Robinson’s favour – all the way to the Privy Council if the need arises.

Commenting on the matter, Symister says that Benjamin pulled a political move to save face, since going forward with the amendment would confirm that the Government is wrong.

Symister claims the attorney-general also lied in his pronouncement to the Parliament when he said the Government would appeal the decision, and he needs to come clean with the public.

Symister says that Benjamin seems to be mixing his political desires with his professional responsibility.

He notes that Benjamin pulling back the amendment does not prevent persons from challenging the government regarding their arrest and subsequent conviction, since the Act took effect over a year ago.