Serious backlog of cases puts AG on defense

Attorney General, Senator Carl Bethel.

There has reportedly been a growing discontent among members of the judiciary and the public on the length of time it takes for cases to be tried in addition to the backlog that has yet to be dealt with, Eyewitness News understands.

In response to the concerns, Attorney General Senator Carl Bethel said, The Bahamas leads in the region for the expedition of cases.

“On the civil side, yes we know there is a delay for scheduling and getting dates, but for the criminal side, The Bahamas is a leader for dealing speedily with criminal matters,” Bethel said.

“In some countries, persons wait 10 years in jail before their case is heard. We have a responsive system that is constitutional.”

The Attorney General lamented that on average, those involved in criminal matters wait two years.

In a bipartisan move, Bethel credited the former Attorney General Allison Maynard-Gibson for her advancement of the Swift Justice Programme.

Under the former administration, 10 courts were added to reduce the backlog of cases and, Bethel said, that this administration plans to add to that amount.

“We are seeking to complete the renovations of two courts to allow for further reduction of the backlog in terms of cases and sexual violence crimes … we may also add another criminal court,” he said.

He added that the plea deal amendment recently added to the law has also been helpful in reducing the strain on the judicial system.

“Plea deals are utilized to the extent where possible depending on the free will decision of the accused as to whether or not that process will be engaged,” he said.

“That amendment has also been helped in reducing the backlog.”