05 May, 2010
No time limit for detaining an arrested person has been set in the law of
Anguilla, but the courts of our region have frowned on a detention of three days. Such a length of time is too long to hold an arrested suspect without charging him. The purpose for taking the arrestee before the magistrate is for the court to consider whether he should be granted bail pending trial.
It is not lawful for the police to arrest a suspect, take him to the station, and keep him there indefinitely until he cracks and signs whatever statement they want him to sign. That is a considered a serious breach of our fundamental human right, and of our common law entitlement not to be forced to incriminate ourselves. Any confession or admission as to the commission of a crime must be freely given, and not forced or tortured out of us. The court will not allow such a confession to be produced in evidence.
Once a suspect has been charged, he must be brought to court on the first court day after the charge has been laid. In the case of arrest for a summary offence, the law permits the police to grant bail to the arrestee.
A number of cases from the region have established the existence of a constitutional right to an attorney, and the right to be informed by the arresting officer of the right to an attorney. In some Constitutions this right is spelled out, but in
Anguilla the right remains one derived from common law. A detention will be illegal if the arrested person is not informed of his rights.