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Dominica Bar Association calls for establishment of an independent trust fund for the justice system

by: - November 20, 2018
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The Dominica Bar Association has called for the establishment of a trust fund which will provide financial support for the judicial system.

This was announced by President of the Dominica Bar Association, Mary Auriel Roberts who was speaking at a press conference held last Thursday.

Ms. Roberts stated that the funds will provide independence for the system which is important for functions to be performed accurately.

“The judiciary plays an important role in ensuring that the basic human and constitutional rights of citizens are respected and protected. Judicial independence is absolutely necessary for the judiciary to perform its functions properly. The Chief Justice has on several occasions caked for the establishment of a trust fund, similar to what funds the Caribbean Court of Justice for the financial support of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court.

According to the Chief Justice Dame Janice Pereira, the current aggregate of arrears in contributions due to the Court stands at just over 22 million dollars, which pose real risks to the administration of justice as they affect the Court’s ability to plan and implement programs, or to employ resources vital for bringing about reforms or to keep the Court functioning as it should.

Roberts noted that these failures undermine access to justice and the delivery of justice, noting that the current financial arrangement and lack of insulation feeds the perception held by many that “he who pays the piper calls the tune.”

She went on to say that the lack of an independent trust fund serves to undermine the level of access and delivery of justice.

“There is a real risk of the exertion of influence over the judiciary. It does nothing to dispel this perception or lend true meaning and purpose to the principle of separation of powers and to protect against what can be an irresistible temptation. It is time that proper financial arrangements are put in place for the full and effective operations of this Court-our foundational and constitutional courts,” she noted.

Ms. Roberts further added that the bar fully supports the call for the establishment of this trust fund so that the judiciary system can be totally independent.

She also added that the association remains committed to advocating for positive changes in the system.

“We wish to lend our support to the Chief Justice for the establishment of a trust fund in order to sever the financial ties between the executive arm of State and the judiciary. This financial dependence on the executive for the provision of court room infrastructure, housing of high court judges and other necessities is a blatantly apparent risk to judicial independence,” Roberts stated.