The National Assembly on Monday passed amendments to the Fugitive Offenders Act, aimed at enhancing the effectiveness of extradition proceedings.

The Fugitive Offenders (Amendment) Bill 2024 was presented by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, SC. The Bill amends section 24 of the Principal Act, to broaden the scope of admissible evidence in extradition proceedings and related applications.

In his address to the National Assembly, the Attorney General said, “This is a positive regime of amendments. It will modernise our extradition law, and enable Guyana as well as other territories to concentrate and collaborate their efforts more efficiently in tackling transnational crime and criminals.”

Additionally, the Bill mandates procedural requirements, including affidavits affirming the evidence’s origin and preservation, and certificates validating its sufficiency for prosecution. It also addresses the admissibility of translated documents and defines key terms for clarity.

The Bill also introduces new provisions allowing the admission of a “record of evidence of the case,” encompassing documents and statements detailing the accused’s identity, location, offence details, legal elements, and applicable punishments.

Nandlall addressed concerns regarding the amendments potentially undermining due process in extradition cases. He reminded that the magistrate embarks on a process that is akin to a preliminary inquiry (PI) and underscored that when an extradition case is brought before a magistrate, he/she is determining admissibility not guilt.

Explaining the process he said, “Which is the accumulation of evidence, statements that would constitute evidence [you] put them before a magistrate and the magistrate commits on those documents…”

Nandlall noted, “There is nothing in this amendment that could possibly compromise due process as it currently exists.”

Moreover, the Department of Public Information (DPI) reported that Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Hugh Todd, also lent his voice in support of the bill, adding that Guyana must strengthen its efforts to collaborate with regional and international partners in tackling organised crime.

“We cannot operate in isolation in fighting these threats, and in helping to ensure that justice prevails, it is important to engage in international cooperation efforts to counter transnational organised crimes such as human trafficking, trafficking in illicit drugs, and money laundering,” he said.

Minister of Home Affairs, Robeson Benn, also highlighted the ongoing threat of transnational crime to national security, underscoring the need for modern approaches to curb such activities. These amendments he said form part of the government’s broader strategy to strengthen security and stability.


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