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Most courtrooms across Eastern Caribbean ill-suited for purpose

Most courtrooms across Eastern Caribbean ill-suited for purpose
Chief Justice Dame Janice M Pereira

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The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed how ill-suited most courtrooms across the member states and territories of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) are.

Chief Justice of the ECSC, Dame Janice M Pereira, delivered this and other analyses, last Wednesday January 13, in a simulcast to all nine member states and territories of the ECSC, on the occasion of the opening of the 2021 Law year.

During her yearly address, the Chief Justice, one of the highest legal luminaries in the region, provides an update on the progress of the court’s projects, as well as the shortcomings which continue to affect the operations of the court.

“The people of the OECS deserve a modern and efficient judiciary serving them in facilities fit for purpose,” Pereira indicated, on the topic of the Halls of Justice project.

The Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can only go so far, the Justice noted, and “new wine does not always blend adequately in old wine skins.”

“For the past eight years, I, as well as Chief Justices before me, have been beseeching Governments to address the dire need for proper court facilities,” she continued.

The pandemic has “exposed how ill-suited most courtrooms across our member states and territories are,” she said, adding that Covid-19 should not have met “us” in “this state.”

She said that while the court is empathetic to the ongoing economic challenges triggered by the pandemic, “I wish to remind Governments of their constitutional duty to ensure that the rights afforded to their citizens thereunder, allow for their meaningful engagement and effective enjoyment.”

“It is my fervent hope that once we have gotten past the pandemic and our economic health has improved, all steps will be taken to address this long outstanding problem,” the Chief Justice concluded.