No murder, rape, robbery or kidnapping case should go beyond two years and three months, and ideally, should last six to nine months, according to Prime Minister Mia Mottley.
In a wide-ranging interview last night, broadcast nationally on television, radio and online, the Prime Minister outlined a series of issues that clog the island’s judicial system, and said things would have to be done differently to clear the backlog of cases.
“One of the first things that needs to happen is that when people are charged it must come to court quickly, particularly with the serious offences like murder, burglary, robbery, rape and kidnapping. We feel that the time frame should be no more than six to nine months from the charging to final appellate stage, and a maximum of no more than two years and three months,” Mottley told interviewer David Ellis.
She complained that the magisterial district segments dated back to the 1950s despite population increases and shifts, “and there are some rules that make no sense, and we need to deconstruct and reconstruct these elements”.
Mottley gave no inkling as to how she intended to effect the relevant changes, although she spoke of the need for courts to hear specific matters such as family issues.
“We need to change the rules in terms of case management, we need a separate commercial court, one for family law cases, including a separate place for single mothers and married mothers seeking child support, and I also support more community service sentences, because a criminal conviction for every minor offence does not make sense,” the Prime Minister stressed.
She also addressed the closure of the Supreme Court complex on Whitepark Road, St Michael, charging that the problem stemmed from the lack of maintenance.
Mottley also hinted at the establishment of a special sinking fund to go towards the maintenance of Government buildings.
“The problem with the court building was that maintenance was not carried out sufficiently. To my knowledge there were no flaws in its construction, at least none were brought to my attention,” she said.
“We allocated $2.5 million in our Budget to rectify the problems with that building, and one of the reasons I appointed Dr William Duguid as Minister of Public Works, Transport and Maintenance was that I wanted to have a minister responsible for looking after Government properties. Going forward, I think we should set up a sinking fund and allocate 1.5 per cent of the cost of any new building to this fund every year, which will go towards maintaining it,” she stated.