KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent — A second criminal high court, to run parallel to the existing one, has been commissioned to deal with the backlog of cases here, Minister of Legal Affairs and Prime Minister, Dr. Ralph Gonsalves said on Thursday.
Gonsalves said that about two months ago, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) wrote to him requesting that the second court be arranged.
“When I was a lawyer, I was very concerned about persons having to wait a long time to have their trial completed and we must all be concerned about this,” Gonsalves told reporters.
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He said the court was commissioned on July 1, after consulting the Attorney General and the Chief Justice, but has not begun to try cases.
Court sessions will be held in the Parliament building, where the House of Assemble sits.
“If you have to use the House on a particular day, the court can’t work the day before because you have to prepare the House, physically, for that day. And then the court can’t come the day after because you have to prepare the building for the court. So, you will actually lose not one day but three days,” Gonsalves said.
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He further said that given the short period of time for which the additional judge has been engaged his ministry might need, through the Chief Justice, to reengage the judge or ask that another one be assigned to the jurisdiction.
“But I just want to point out, the delivery of justice is an expensive business. I would wish, if there were no backlogs that we didn’t have to go for a second criminal high court. The simple fact is this: the Office of the DPP has recommended it and it is my duty to respond, having consulted with the Honourable Attorney General about the necessity and desirability, and certainly with the Chief Justice,” Gonsalves said.