Our Readers' Opinions
July 6, 2012
The justice system in SVG stinks!

Fri, Jul 6. 2012

Editor: We are Vincentians by reason of geography and law. Geography has only to do with the physical boundaries or the land which we occupy (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines).{{more}}

Law, however, is the concept of living harmoniously and contentedly together as a community and all the rules we know up to now, are directed towards achieving some basic practical accommodation to exist or live together in the geographic area we occupy.

Man trumpets that he has progressed from the days when he was created to the present day and we have names like Hyskos, Hammurabi, Hannibal, Genghis Khan and a host of noted tyrants, warriors, kings, dictators and vagabonds.

And so we trace from the Code of Hammurabi, the Mosaic Laws, Roman Law, European Legal History, Rules, Codifications, Constitutions, Bills of Rights to the present day, when we have ambitious, uneducated people without knowledge, but who are endowed with cunning and charismatic deceptions.

We live in our geographic area under some concepts bandied about, but never implemented until today; we exist in total endemic discomfort. Man, it is said, must have for his existence food, shelter, companionship, security and the facility of community interaction. No man can live alone.

We consent to be governed by people who we choose to govern us and what we have are systems designed and practised to provide optimum comforts, safety and security for themselves, their offspring and their friends.

If you complain, our system for complaints is regulated by rules aimed at protecting the offenders against the very rules. You accuse a Prime Minister of rape and he who ought to be supervising the machinery of justice enters a ‘stop the proceedings’ Nolle Prosequi and the accused goes free.

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines has the record for the most Nolle Prosequi for government’s alleged offenders. There are no statistics for persons who have been prosecuted and/or charged and who have been freed before called upon to make a defense. On the civil side, there has not been a single solitary case of complaint against the government or its officers being settled on its merits. It is always a fight and it is known and accepted that if you fight with the government, you will lose and then be victimized.

The instances are myriad false arrests, malicious prosecutions, negligence of government departments and/or its officers flouting the constitution and by means of pressure and the hope of advancement. The rules are bent, ignored or pushed aside to facilitate the disregard, the demands for justice and the written words of the constitution and the rules under the same (the rule of law).

It is evident, or plain to see, that lawyers, particularly, and doctors practise their profession wickedly influenced by politics. There are two (2) distinct groups of lawyers in our community: the barefoot man on the street, should he overhear your conversation about any lawyer, for any matter, will name those for the New Democratic Party (NDP) and those for the Unity Labor Party (ULP). It is as though lawyers are divided into one set for the government and the other for the opposition.

And this spills over; the lawyers representing the government are the ones who manipulate the government’s offices and it is clear, if you take the time to think, that the mechanics of internal procedure at the courts display preferences.

But one will believe that as a lawyer you can introduce some sanity into the functioning of our justice system. As one lawyer puts it, when queried about the delay of a simple matter as that of filing a deed, he replied, “I have a rent to pay, a wife and two children to look after and I have to find work. What do you want me to do, put us all to starve?”

What is worse and most distressing is the inability to use the rules to rectify or set on the proper course the rules of the judicial system. If something is wrong you can APPEAL, but you cannot appeal if, for example, the Registrar or the Registrar’s office delays the progress of a matter, since the rules do no cater for the exercising of a clerk’s discretion.

The clerk can, therefore, permit your matter to languish and fail to be adjudicated upon and its eventual throw out. In all parts of the civilized world, a constitutional motion is heard within six (6) days of its filing. A maritime matter, dealing with ships carrying cargo, is usually heard within weeks, for the sole reason that an idle ship incurs heavy expenses everyday just to keep it afloat. So, in countries other than Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, there is hardly a backlog of maritime cases.

And what is the bitterest gall, is the staffing of the Judiciary. There are two (2) judges in our jurisdiction who show competence and they are overworked.

So what do we have here? No Confidence in the system and the rules that govern us and we’re powerless to even, Madam Editor, write this type of letter to you.

Justice Watt