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Two new magistrates will take up posts in St. Vincent and the Grenadines on April 1, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves announced on radio today (Wednesday).

One will be a senior magistrate appointed on a permanent arrangement, while the other will be a magistrate appointed for one year.

“Both of them are women and both of them are Vincentian nationals. I would leave it to the Office of the Attorney General to make the formal announcements about the names,” Gonsalves, who is also minister of legal affairs, said on NBC Radio.

“But what is important is that the posts are filled and in the case of the chief magistrate, we await what is the position of the Judicial and Legal Service Commission,” he said, referring to Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne, who is acting as a judge in St. Lucia until March 31.

It has been rumoured for some time that Tameka Mc Kenzie-Da Silva, an assistant director of public prosecution would be appointed a magistrate.

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Currently, there are only two magistrates in St. Vincent and the Grenadines — Senior Magistrate Colin John and Magistrate John Ballah.

Two magisterial posts are vacant after the contract of Bertie Pompey, a retired police officer, was not renewed, and Zoila Ellis-Browne demitted office as a magistrate.

Gonsalves said he understands that there had been “some justifiable comments about the need for more magistrates.

“As you know, Zoila Ellis, she had reached her period of retirement on the bench and so, too, Bertie Pompey and we were making all the requisite arrangements for replacements.”

Gonsalves noted that Ellis-Browne was replaced by Ballah, who was appointed as a magistrate in June 2023, after retiring from the police force after two decades of service.

“But we were just given a shortened notice by the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, which is of course, … an independent body that Mr. Pompey had gotten some extensions and it was time to bring those extensions essentially to an end.”

The prime minister further said that the government was not aware that the chief magistrate was going to be upgraded, temporarily as a judge and stationed in St. Lucia. 

“But what we had done, what we had planned for, was to have a second senior magistrate,” he said, noting that John is already a senior magistrate.

“So you had four magistrates, plus, of course, the president of the Family Court, which is a jurisdiction between the magistracy and the High Court with particular statutory responsibilities,” the prime minister said.

He said it was fortunate that before these developments the government had budgeted for another senior magistrate.

“But, of course, you don’t pick up magistrates and senior magistrates off the shelf like cornflakes. And the persons would have to be vetted and the Judicial and Legal Services Commission, they have their processes,” the prime minister said.

Regarding Pompey, the prime minister said it was not unusual for magistrates to get an extension of their tenure, but the Judicial and Legal Services Commission “tends to want to not give too many extensions.

“And that is what has been the experience in the past. But we were seeking to bolster it, as I said, with an additional senior magistrate which, fortuitously, it was in the Estimates,” the prime minister said.

One reply on “Two new magistrates to take up posts on April 1”

  1. Urlan Alexander says:

    I am amazed that the legal affairs minister and minister if national security is clueless on several matters that affect his ministries…senility?

Comments closed.