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OECS Governments Reminded of Financial Obligations to Court

by: - January 14, 2020
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Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE

Eastern Caribbean governments have been called to attend to the financial needs of its courts.

On Monday, January 13th, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court commenced the new Law Year 2020/2021 with its ceremonial opening in the form of special sitting of the court in Dominica and other OECS territories.

This year’s ceremony was held under the theme, “A New Era for the Caribbean Supreme Court: The Road to Achieving Court Excellence”.

At the formal sitting held at the High Court, Chief Justice, Her Ladyship, Dame Janice Pereira lamented that the Caribbean court lacks capital and human resource.

“Every year since I have been Chief Justice and I have had the opportunity to address you in this forum I have sung the same refrain. Indeed, chief justices before me have done the same. I have implored our governments to do their parts to provide suitable and adequate court facilities and to fulfill their mandates to the judicial branch of Government, after all it is a co-equal branch of government. It is time to stop making promises but instead fulfill them. It is time that attention be paid to the courts and the indispensable functions they perform rather than the treatment endured year after year after year as if the courts are a nuisance afterthought,” Pereira stated.

While discussions and some introductory work has been seen to the establish a trust fund for the court, Her Ladyship reminds governments of the need to construct fitting structures to house the court.

She adds that procrastination will not erase the issue.

“You, the people deserve proper court facilities which are accessible to all, not only the rich but the poor, the old, the young, the able and the disabled. The courts in Grenada were unusable for most of last year, so too, were the criminal courts in St. Lucia for the most of 2018. While these courts facilities have only now reopened, they’re certainly only another bandage upon a festering wound.”

Her ladyship lamented further, “As I speak, this ceremonial opening of the law year in St. Lucia is taking place in a building outside of the court’s facilities, due to a lack of adequate physical accommodation.”

She also advised that procrastination will not deter the issue of cost for its construction, reminding that,”the cost of constructing proper facilities is often lamented but the fact is that delays won’t make it cheaper, just more costly.”

The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) was established in 1967 by the West Indies Associated States Supreme Court Order No. 223 of 1987. The ECSC is a superior court of record for the Organization of the Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), including six independent states: Antigua and Barbuda, the Commonwealth of Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and three British Overseas Territories (Anguilla, British Virgin Islands and Montserrat).

It has unlimited jurisdiction in each member State.