New court regulations introduced to speed up justice system

New court regulations will require the Prosecutor General (PG) to press charges against suspects arrested in serious crimes within 45 days of their arrest.

The regulation states that suspects arrested in other cases should be charged within 30 days, as well as giving instruction on how to proceed if the PG fails to press charges against a suspect in the given duration.

Furthermore, the new regulation determines different times of the day that police will be able to request a court warrant, as well as the times at which they will be issued.

According to the regulation, if any other institution needs a court warrant to conduct a criminal investigation, it has to request for the warrant through police.

The PG’s Office will not be able to resubmit a criminal case after withdrawing it, unless it informs the court that the case is being withdrawn for revisions. Cases withdrawn for other purposes cannot be resubmitted.

Earlier this month, the High Court ruled that the lower court could not revisit a police obstruction case involving two MPs, as the PG’s Office had earlier withdrawn the case for reasons that were not clearly understood by all parties.

The regulation obliges the PG to resubmit any case withdrawn for revisions within 30 days of the withdrawal.

The Criminal Court said that a meeting had been held with officials from the police, the Prosecutor General’s Office, and lawyers to launch the new regulation.

On December 10, 2013, the police launched a 100 day roadmap based on four main strategies which sought to increase and enhance operational activities, conduct activities to curb crime, enhance and hasten investigations, and to improve the police institution.

The roadmap set a target of  80 percent of the investigations filed with police to be completed and fowarded onto the Prosecutor General’s (PG) office of a more efficient service.

Police also pledged to conclude their investigations into crimes – other than those of a serious or organised nature-  in 30 days, to conclude testing of suspicious drugs within three days, and to conduct three special operations to curb the illegal businesses of drug and alcohol.

On December 2, 2013, the police and PG’s Office started working together in the investigation process in order to speed up investigations, with the of concluding investigations and submitting them to the court within 48 hours.

The new regulations come as the PG’s Office tackles a backlog of over 500 cases after the Criminal Court’s refusal to accept new work without the appointment of a new prosecutor general. The Deputy PG has said the build up of cases will take a month to clear.

Meanwhile, both the Criminal and Civil Courts have been forced to curtail overtime hours due to budget restrictions. Staff refusing unpaid overtime have been suspended.