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Legal Aid Council to consider Privy Council recommendations
An attempt is to be made to incorporate some recommendations made by the United Kingdom Privy Council that should assist local convicts in filing their appeals there.
This is to come through the Legal Aid Council. The Privy Council in a Judgment issued Thursday, remarked that local convicts in practice did not benefit from legal aid to assist them in their appeals.
However it also made some recommendations about the issue.
The Executive Director of the Legal Aid Council Hugh Faulkner, explains that these will be discussed at the next meeting of the Legal Aid Council, and will be seriously considered.
“I believe we have a duty to pay detailed attention to the ruling of the Privy Council , from time to time we have had legislative changes have emanated from Privy Council rulings” He also accepted the criticism from the Law Lords, indicating that the source of the criticism shouldn't matter as long as the recommendations benefit those who need it.
Meanwhile, spokesperson for Jamaicans For Justice Susan Goffe, believes the recommendations in the judgment demonstrate that local authorities do not have the will to change some things.
This she argues is because the issues are not new, but rather have been put aside over the years
“One of the things that disturbs me is that these are things that have not been acted on but now we are getting a ruling from the Privy Council that’s suggesting that we take action in some of these areas. We need to recognize the lack of will and lack of action on the part of our own authorities in pushing for the necessary changes”
However, she is also urging local individuals who interact with the judicial and penal systems to speak out more on issues affecting prisoners, so the wider public can be made aware of the issues.
“ I would like encourage also our local attorneys to be more vocal on issues of this kind, very often , they are the professionals who have first hand information on this and I would ask that they are more vocal because that would result in more local pressure” she said.
On Thursday the Privy Council granted permission for two Jamaican men to pursue their appeal against their murder conviction. The men – Carlos Hamilton and Jason Lewis were convicted in 2001 of the murder of Saleem Hines
They were sentenced to life imprisonment and ordered to serve 25 years before becoming eligible for parole. In 2003 they appealed to the highest local court – the Court of Appeal but their application was dismissed.
The subsequent application for leave to go to the Privy Council should have been filed within 56 days after the Court of Appeal dismissed the matter but this was not done.
Instead the matter was filed eight years and four months later. Despite the late application, the Privy Council said that in the interest of justice it has decided to grant the men’s request.
A date is now to be set for the Privy Council to hear the appeal.
In commenting on the case the Privy Council said Jamaica is among several Caribbean countries that fails to provide legal aid for prisoners after their murder appeals are dismissed by the Court of Appeal.