Parliament unanimously amends Evidence Act with aim of improving criminal and civil trials


By Kurt Campbell

[] – The National Assembly on at its Thursday sitting (January 16) unanimously amended the standing Evidence Act with the aim of improving criminal and civil trials in local Courts, particularly those including injuries and the awarding of compensation.

ANILDuring the brief debate on the amendments, there was much talk also of more speedy trials and improved efficacy.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs Anil Nandlall, who piloted the amendments, explained that it was intended to expand the category of experts whose analysis and reports or any form of diagnosis or certification to be made admissible in a Court without the person from which the document originates having to present himself in person.

He pointed the difficulty currently experienced when fighting a case involving injuries without medical certificates from a registered practitioner. He also pointed to cases where mothers go to the Courts to get fathers to stand up to their responsibilities only to hear the accused males deny that they are in fact the biological father.

He said the amendment also takes into account the newly established forensic lab in Guyana and the types of certificates that will emanate from there in the near future.

Meanwhile, Opposition Member of Parliament Basil Williams said the amendments are welcomed by practitioners of criminal law. He also spoke of its ability to speed up trials.

Williams however called for continuous training of magistrates and judges even as local laws are modernized.

Meanwhile, his opposition counterpart, Leader of the Alliance for Change (AFC) Khemraj Ramjattan said that even with these amendments persons must be careful that the source from which these evidence emanate are in fact credible.

According to him, a lot of injustices can be caused with these types of modern legislations and warned that we should guard against it.

In this regard, the AG assured of the credibility of all information to emanate from the forensic lab. He said that there will be other systems in place to guard against injustices, for instance the jury system.

The AG in response to a question from the opposition benches also spoke to efforts to improve the jury system.



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