The Chief Justice, a child of the 1955 hurricane, Janet, recalling fresh images of the most recent cylcone’s onslaught on a Caribbean neighbour, has declared that the judicial system he leads has not been proactive in its hurricane preparedness.
And Sir Marston Gibson has announced that he is taking steps to have that rectified especially after seeing the catastrophe caused by Hurricane Dorian in the northern Bahamas.
Describing as “very gory and vivid and upsetting” images making the rounds on social media following the devastation wrought by the Category 5 system on the Abaco islands and Grand Bahama, Sir Marston declared Bridgetown “fortunate”.
“We are not God’s own country. I don’t like to hear that saying God’s own country because a long time ago when I was one-year-old, we had a hurricane called Janet that hit Barbados directly.
“But whether a cyclone becomes a hurricane or not depends on when the winds start to swirl . . . .There is every possibility that it will not just be a tropical storm when it gets to us, it would be a hurricane.”
He told Monday’s special sitting of the Court of Appeal to mark the start of the new law term that accounting firm PricewaterhouseCoopers has been retained to conduct two reviews of the JURIST project, an initiative of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) to improve the delivery of justice in domestic Caribbean courts.
One of the reports is an operational review, the details of which Sir Marston said would be made known when new judges are appointed.
But a Disaster Preparedness and Business Continuity report, the Chief Justice declared, pointed to weaknesses in the judicial system’s readiness for hazards like a hurricane.
Sir Marston said: “It’s a report that we have looked at I must confess readily we have not been as proactive as we could be but after Dorian we will be.
“Because we have to be prepared, that if we are struck by a hurricane that we can still carry on with the business of the courts and the registry by moving persons or having persons operate from selected areas of Barbados, that is the main plan . . . and that way we will have business continuity.
“Because we can no longer take for granted that every time a cyclone comes our way it will be in the guise of a tropical storm and I want to go back to my boy scout motto, ‘be prepared’.
The head of the judiciary also revealed to special sitting in the No. 1 Supreme Court that a new Apex CURIA e-filing programme – also a CCJ project -was also scheduled to come on stream in the court system.
He said: “The Apex CURIA Programme which is the same programme… is used for filing with the Caribbean Court of Justice.
“We had a few discussions with the contractor and we did our review… and we have finally come up with a version which we can live with and it is supposed to be signed this morning by the Permanent Secretary from the office of the Attorney General.”