OECS Chief Justice laments conditions of court houses in regional bloc

Attorneys in Dominica gather for the formal opening of the new Law Year in the OECS
Attorneys in Dominica gather for the formal opening of the new Law Year in the OECS

Chief Justice of Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal, Dame Janice Pereira , has lamented the ‘shocking’ state of court houses in the regional bloc and has called on governments to urgently address the matter.

Speaking via a simulcast from St. Lucia during the opening of the new Law Year in the OECS on Monday, she said it is the responsibility of states and territories to finance the judiciary.

“The court cannot achieve true accessibility and equal access to justice in a vacuum,” she noted. “It must be adequately funded. It is the states and territories’ responsibility to provide adequate financial resources to the¬†judiciary and I dare say this ought not to be chased after by the judiciary …”

She argued that states are responsible for providing the judiciary with adequate physical facilities and related infrastructure.

“The courtrooms and other facilities in many of our member states and territories are in deplorable conditions and have been for several years,” she stated. “There are some deficiencies that are so basic as to be shocking.”

Justice Pereira expressed her deep disappointment that the Halls of Justice Project, which was formulated by the court for the construction of adequate facilities in the OECS, has been discussed for more than a decade and nothing has been done.

“If our citizenry is to truly enjoy access to justice in a way that is effective and meaningful, these deficiencies must be addressed, not another decade from now, but as a matter of urgency,” she stated.

To drive home her point, the Chief Justice pointed out that dilapidated court houses are not compatible with the e-technology the court wishes to use.

“Much of the e-technology which the court wishes to utilize for bringing greater efficiency into the system and for streamlining and simplifying various court processes that are more beneficial to the public are simply incompatible with archaic, dilapidated and dysfunctional physical spaces and buildings which lead to frustration and the part of court users and leave much to be desired in instilling a sense of purpose, importance and confidence by the public in the courts,” she stated.

She called on governments within the regional bloc to address the matter with urgency.

“I take this opportunity to once again to call upon all states to urgently discuss these matters,” she noted. “A certain view held by many that the judiciary is a third cousin of the state is one that must be eschewed and should be forever banished.”

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  1. Louis Bernard
    September 22, 2016

    As the chief justice, some measure of leadership is assumed, since Leadership is everything; So pray tell me what what type quality and/or quantity of leadership is been provided by the chief Justice. We were told that in matters dealing with the determination of duly elected members to the parliament should not exceed 90 days or three months. The case of Roosevelt Skerrit and his qualification took in excess of 730 days or more than two years. Mt GON Emmanuel’s matter is five years, the IPO has been disbanded, yet there are matters before the court regarding the eligibility of certain members, there is the matter of a practicing lawyer for allegedly defrauding a News Paper, there are so many judicial review matters before the court; it would have been instructive if the honorable chief justice had provided to the people who pays her salary what is the status of all these long standing matters in the courts under her leadership. May be it is testament to what passes for leadership.

    • Justice of GON Emanuel - a good start!
      September 22, 2016

      Mr. Bernard, thank you for this.

      My follow on comment is that this court and the honourable lady are not fit for their purpose particularly as in the case of Mr. Emanuel, she has and is doing NOTHING to allow the course of justice to proceed whilst she ‘laments’ about the state of court houses. Very funny!

      About her DBE, I wouldn’t be too awed about that. These days the most disreputable people are awarded this honour. Remember, ‘Sir’ Jimmy Saville, the most vile pedophile the UK has ever known? Well in the 1972 New Year Honours, he was appointed Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. In 1990, he was made a Knight Bachelor by the Queen. He was also knighted by the Prince of Lucifer himself (the Pope) in Rome and also, like Dr. Skerritt, had a honorary doctorate.

  2. Jaded
    September 21, 2016

    As far as I am concerned court can be held under a mango tree (ok… any shady tree). So what is important in our justice system is that our prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and juries all have a high regard for the law and perform their duties fairly and impartially. Any other stuff like buildings and technology, although important in today\’s society, is gravy.

  3. Not a herd follower
    September 21, 2016

    Complaints for decades now but nothing is done to even partially address the problems that are being accumulated every year. Much of Caribbean society is becoming dysfunctional.

  4. Justice for GON (gone, but NOT forgotten)
    September 21, 2016

    Does the Honourable Chief Justice Dame whatchamacallit ,LLB, Bar, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the same British Empire that enslaved her forbears, lament the fact that her court has sat on the case of GON Emanuel nEow for a number of years and has given no reason for doing so and that same court is deafeningly silent about its inability to bring Skerro and his mates to justice?

  5. Louis Bernard
    September 21, 2016

    Our modern day professionals, including judges, seem to be more concerned about the quality and comfort that they live and work in than delivering quality justice.
    It appears to me that these professionals are more concerned about their egos, and maintain their eliteism status than delivering justice in a timely manner. This leads me to ask the question, “Whether their delayed and oft perverted justice is a form of protest, that punishes the poor and disposed disproportionately, rather than the politicians who allow what is deemed to be the deplorable conditions of the buildings.
    Their protest if such, is ill directed, because as they would or should know “Justice Delayed is Justice Denied”.

  6. syncronize
    September 21, 2016

    Stupes, Chewps, choops.. and the stupeses goes one and on. Fed up every year with all the same rhetoric. Same ole same ole set of words. Parading of a set of nonesense lawyers every year showing off their gowns, thats all it is about, and the country upside down. There is so much ills in this country and all the umpting lawyers we have they are all mute. No one says anything. I don’t care and am not interested in them so whats the point showing them

  7. Stoney
    September 21, 2016

    i’m afraid of the Court system they haven’t done justice to their own black people then they speak about being on their own…

    look at the amount of cases lurking in the system..

    what’s up with those Black Slave Court Masters, re the Gon Emanuel case matter…

    The Courts haven’t being above board it’s a boy’s club eating their own black people’s money and deceiving them at all levels….

    the court system represents a dark cult.

  8. Grays Out
    September 21, 2016

    Dame Janice, the judicial infrastructure/system is indeed broken, but don’t expect it to be fixed anytime soon because the attorneys seem to like it so.

    • Justice for GON (gone, but NOT forgotten)
      September 21, 2016

      May I add… “… the attorneys and you…?

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