ATTORNEY General Faris Al-Rawi on Thursday said "a high hurdle" to access bail has been set regarding people who are incarcerated on charges of possession of firearms and related matters. At a virtual news conference at the Health Ministry's office on Park Street in Port of Spain, Al-Rawi said this is an important part of the conversation about reducing prison overcrowding to combat the spread of the covid19 pandemic.
Reiterating that the focus of this exercise is on the release of low-risk prisoners, Al-Rawi said people who have been imprisoned on firearm possession and related matters will have to justify to the court why they should be granted bail. Noting legislation passed in Parliament, still before Parliament and comments from the Opposition, Al-Rawi said examination of these matters is being "very seriously circumscribed."
He said data from the judiciary indicates there are currently 149 people incarcerated on non-violent offences and 239 people convicted on serious offences. He explained the courts are the entity which grant bail. Al-Rawi also said the President can play a role in the release of prisoners through the granting of pardons.
He explained Government, the Judiciary, Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the Public Defenders Division and the police are going through these exercises carefully.