At least two human rights groups are calling on the government to fast-track the process of justice reform in the country, following Monday’s decision by the Court of Appeal to quash the conviction and sentence of a man.
Brian Russell was sentenced in 2015 to eleven years imprisonment, after being found guilty of firearm and robbery offences.
In reacting to the ruling the two groups, Jamaicans for Justice and Stand Up for Jamaica, say the case highlights the deficiencies of the judicial system.
Daina Davy reports.
Brian Russell would have been eligible for release from prison in September this year.
JFJ and Stand Up for Jamaica say the fact that he served almost the entire 11 year sentence, before being able to appeal, exposes the difficulties faced by appellants in their attempt to access justice.
In his appeal, Russell argued that the learned trial judge made errors in admitting and relying on inadmissible evidence.
He also argued that the judge erred in her legal summation on identification evidence.
JFJ and Stand Up for Jamaica say Russell’s fundamental rights under section 16 of the Constitution were violated due to the inordinate delay in hearing his appeal.
According to the groups, some of the most glaring challenges include delays in producing trial transcripts, lack of legal aid in drafting and filing appeals and anxiety caused to appellants by prolonged imprisonment while awaiting appeal.
They add that the limited access to bail, pending appeal, is also another challenge.
JFJ and Stand Up for Jamaica say Russell’s case is an example of the urgent need for comprehensive reforms in the judicial system.
They say the existing challenges demand urgent attention from Justice Minister, Delroy Chuck as well as Court administrators.