A group of inmates is challenging the decision by Chief Justice Ivor Archie, to place a ban on in-person hearings at all courts.
In an e-mailed statement to the Judiciary on Monday, the group, claiming to be remanded inmates, is demanding their day in court as they believe Archie’s practice direction has paralyised their access to justice.
The prisoners are calling on the Law Association, or any civil body, to challenge the CJ’s Covid19 practice directions.
The group said “All we are asking for is our day in court! Nothing more, nothing less!”
The group said that since the pandemic began, remanded prisoners have “waited patiently” as their trials are postponed and their cases adjourned at each hearing.
“We have no real access to the judiciary, while the presumption is that we are still innocent men!
“However, the recent utterances of the Honourable Chief Justice that there will be no in-person hearings of our cases greatly alarms us. The simple fact is that the Judiciary is depriving us of our inalienable right to be free men and our due process in law to either clear our names or be sentenced to a fixed period of incarceration in a court of law.”
“Our question to the Chief Justice is, does he not have a moral and legal obligation to ensure that we have fair access to the justice system?”
The Law Association’s president, Douglas Mendes SC, said the council was sympathetic to the view that virtual trials are not ideal and that in-person hearings should be held if they can be done safely.