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Guyana plea bargaining law ?underutilised?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Almost four years after the plea bargaining legislation was passed in the Guyana National Assembly, Attorney General Anil Nandlall said it is being underutilised. According to Nandlall, the legislation should be used with more frequency; however, it is a facility which largely depends on the parties involved.
The law allows the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), or any prosecutor or attorney-at-law, authorised by the DPP on the one side, and the accused, through his attorney-at-law or by himself, to negotiate and enter into a plea agreement.
The legislation will benefit a person who has entered into a plea agreement and is cooperating with law enforcement authorities, or whose cooperation is beneficial to the administration of criminal justice.
The bill was fashioned to help pave the way for reducing the significant backlog of Preliminary Inquiries in the Magistrates? Court. Under another legislation, a Preliminary Inquiry is conducted for indictable matters.
When the bill was passed, it was pointed out that now that the way has been paved for cases to be committed to the High Court faster, the issue of more judges was to be looked at. It was pointed out that there should be at least 10 judges handling the assizes given the already backlogged High Court. However, presently there are two judges handling that.
High court sources a local News paper that there was a backlog of over 6000 cases.

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