Members of the legal fraternity marching along Cayon Street in Basseterre during the opening of the new law year on Tuesday, September 17. (Photo: A. Huie)
By Andre Huie
BASSETERRE, St Kitts (WINN) -- Chief justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Janice Pereira believes the time is now right for the region’s court to find other sources of revenue, rather than relying on the executive for financial support. The chief justice was speaking at a special sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to commemorate the opening of the new law year on Tuesday from the High Court in the British Virgin Islands.
“The dependence of our court offices on the executive to provide needed resources and budget approvals, sometimes hamper the everyday functioning and efficiency thus demanding a greater level of creativity and initiative on the part of those that manage our court offices,” Perriera said. “We have seen an international trend of courts moving to greater financial independence in an effort to promote and preserve judicial independence. The question must be asked how can the judiciary, as an institution be truly independent if it does not have some kind, some level of true financial independence.”
Chief Justice Janice Pereira. Photo: Court website
Speaking on the theme The Role of the Court in the Region’s Socio-Economic Development, Pereira said the judicial system is unfortunately not viewed as an important part in the economic and social development of countries. “Many persons view value only in monetary terms and measure it primarily in terms of tangible areas such as industry and commerce and the benefits to be derived from them. As a result the focus is placed on developing these areas with the expectation that the returns which are yielded will be sufficient to enhance the country’s socio-economic growth."
"Unfortunately, the judicial system is not viewed by most as being integral to the country’s socio-economic development and thus the vital contribution that the courts make to the economy of the state may be underestimated,” the chief justice said. “The reality is that economic and social development depends on an effective legal system which is just as pivotal to a country’s growth and development as any financial institution.”
Meanwhile, Pereira reiterated the court’s plans to develop facilities and court houses in the various member states through the Halls of Justice Project. She said several of the court houses in the jurisdiction are archaic and are not designed for the intended purposes. Some she said violate basic health and safety standards and must be addressed.
The chief justice’s presentation was simulcast in all the courts of the Eastern Caribbean via video conferencing. The new law year in St Kitts opened with a church service in Basseterre followed by a procession to the Judicial Complex, where newly appointed resident judge Justice Darshan Ramdhani inspected the Guard of Honour.
Republished with permission of West Indies News Network