Basseterre, St. Kitts, October 16, 2015 (SKNIS) —Prime Minister, Dr. the Honourable Timothy Harris has announced that the government is hoping to open a second high court in Basseterre by early 2016. This is in response to the need to address a grave backlog of court cases which has been one of the major challenges facing the justice system in St. Kitts and Nevis and the wider Eastern Caribbean.
“Discussions have been between the office of the Attorney General and the office of the Chief Justice of this most important development,” the prime minister said during his monthly press conference on October 13.
Additionally, the government is also working assiduously in addressing the constraints facing the other side of crime fighting—the prosecution of criminal cases. The prime minister disclosed that well known criminal attorney Dane Hamilton Q.C., is in St Kitts and Nevis on special assignment in assisting with the criminal assizes.
“The last criminal assizes was a dismal performance by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) where only 3 of 35 cases were tried. Thirty two (32) cases were traversed to the current September assizes. Dane Hamilton’s support is a constructive boost to the criminal justice system and much tutoring and mentoring can be had by the juniors in the Office of the DPP,” the prime minister said.
“The criminal justice system is best served by a high performing office of DPP. By drawing on the expertise and experience of Dane Hamilton, one of the region’s finest, we free the criminal justice system for efficacious outcomes. We will not put a price on justice,” declared Dr. Harris. He noted that the government is prepared to go all the way to protect citizens and residents and to preserve the sanctity of the justice system.
The government recently finalized arrangements to end the tenure of former DPP Travers Sinanan and the prime minister is of the view that the quick resolution of this matter has brought stability to the prosecution. He hinted to an action taken by the former DPP that will cost the country some $10 million.
“In the May assizes, I am advised that five matters were nolle prossed by the former DPP, Mr. Sinanan. The consequence of these actions and others is that claims just under $10 million to date confront the taxpayers of this country. Certainly, we could not allow this unnecessary hemorrhage on the public purse to continue,” he said.
Additionally, the prime minister disclosed that there are appropriation warrants for unlawful arrests for 2014 total $11 million.
“Eleven million in 2014, and 10 million in 2015 added up to a desperate need to rescue the criminal justice system. My Government acted at the right time and in the interest of the criminal justice system. Without saying more, I say thank God we did,” the prime minister said.
In the meantime, the prime minister also announced that the Criminal Justice Strategic Board is about to be implemented.
“We are initiating a broad based response of relevant intergovernmental agencies together to create a more wholesome society of less crime and deviance. The Attorney General will initially lead this Board,” Dr, Harris disclosed.