The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court will be taking a serious look into the matter of the public’s waning confidence in the justice system – not only in Antigua and Barbuda, but across the eight member-states and territories of the Court.
This situation is also impacting courts across the globe, with persons publicly expressing their dissatisfaction and lack of confidence in the system, which many say has failed them.
During the opening of the New Law Year on Tuesday, January 10, the Chief Justice, Her Ladyship Dame Janice Pereira, said this issue is of great concern as the Caribbean pursues democracy.
Speaking via simulcast, Dame Janice said the region’s justice system could lose all credibility, since it is the public’s faith that gives the operations of the Court its legitimacy to dispense justice.
The loss of confidence in the judicial system could result in persons taking the law into their own hands, she says, and this would create another problem.
According to Chief Justice Pereira, everything must be done to regain the public’s trust in the work the courts do.
She says that judicial officers – including lawyers, judges and magistrates – must continue to function ethically while conducting themselves with honesty and professionalism.
The Chief Justice says that several measures have been implemented, including the Sentencing Guidelines, to ensure that confidence in the system is rebuilt.
Judgments and comprehensive case statistics are also published on the Court’s website, and the Court also has a presence on a social media platform – Facebook – to better engage with the public, Chief Justice Pereira notes.
She admits that there is more work to be done to build the public’s confidence while simultaneously maintaining the Court’s independence and impartiality.
Therefore, the Court will seek to embark on an increased number of public-education programmes, since Justice Pereira says it has not been doing enough.
The New Law Year opened with its traditional ceremonial proceedings in host country Anguilla under the theme “The ECSC: Navigating the Changing Tides.”