Guyana prepares to widen evidence for extradition

Last Updated on Friday, 5 July 2024, 21:14 by Writer

The Attorney General Chambers and Ministry of Legal Affairs, Carmichael Street, Georgetown.

The National Assembly is next Monday set to amend the Fugitive Offenders Act to allow for the use of evidence that would not otherwise be accepted under the laws of Guyana to facilitate the extradition of persons.

“A record of evidence of the case against the person, including evidence that would not otherwise be admissible under the laws of Guyana, shall be admissible as evidence,” states the Fugitive Offenders (Amendment) Bill.

If passed, as expected by government’s simple majority in the 65-seat National Assembly, the Fugitive Offenders Act would allow for the record of evidence of the case against a person to be admitted in evidence if it is accompanied by an affidavit from an officer of the investigating authority or prosecutor.

The Bill says the affidavit will have to state who the record of evidence of the case was prepared by, or under the direction of that officer of that prosecutor and that the evidence has been preserved for use in the person’s trial. The record will have to be accompanied by a certificate bearing an official seal or stamp of such a person, stating that in the opinion of that person the record of evidence of the case discloses the existence of evidence that is sufficient under the law of the Commonwealth country or treaty territory to justify a prosecution in that country or territory.

The persons, under whose authority the certificate will be accepted, are the Attorney General or principal law officer of the Commonwealth country or treaty territory, or their deputy to or delegate or any other person who has legal control over the decision to prosecute.

The proposed amendment to the Fugitive Offenders Act further provides for the certificate purported to have been signed by a person described to be admitted by a court without proof of the signature or official character of the person appearing to have signed it.

The changes to the law will also allow for a translation of a document into English to be admitted into evidence only where it is certified by a judicial, prosecuting or penal authority, or other officer administering a government department, of a Commonwealth country or treaty territory and purports to be an accurate translation of the original document.

A record of evidence, according to the Bill, includes documents, statements or other evidence including photographs, fingerprints or other descriptions of the person which describes the identity and probable location of the person sought; a statement of the facts of the case, includes, if possible, the time and location of the offence, and a statement of the provisions of the law describing the essential elements and the designation of the offence for which extradition is requested; a statement of the provisions of the law prescribing the punishment for the offence and any other relevant documents.