Poor Performance of Criminal Justice System Costing State Millions, say PM and AG



St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN):  The alleged poor performance of former Director of Public Prosecutions Travers Sinanan is proving very costly to the government, according to Prime Minister Dr. Timothy Harris.

While focusing on the criminal justice system during his monthly news conference, the Prime Minister said a decision not to renew the contract of the former DPP was in the best interest of the country.

Sinanan took the Attorney General Vincent Byron Jr. to court over the matter, and the two sides arrived at an out of court settlement.

The details have not been made public because of a court order barring the parties involved from commenting publicly on the settlement.

According to Prime  Minister Harris, the arrangements made post Sinanan are expected to yield much better results in court.

“Dane Hamilton QC, a well-known criminal attorney is here in St. Kitts and Nevis.  He’s here on special assignment with us for the Criminal Assizes and other matters in relation to the criminal justice system,” Dr. Harris said at his monthly press conference on Tuesday.

“The last criminal assizes I am advised by people in the legal fraternity, was or showed a very poor performance by the office of the DPP.  Three out of thirty five cases were tried.  Only three. Thirty two cases were traversed to the current September Assizes,” he told reporters.

“Dane Hamilton’s support is a constructive boost to the criminal justice system, and much tutoring and mentoring will be had by those in the office of the DPP on request.  The positive action which the Team Unity Government has taken to resolve the tenure of the former DPP has brought stability, it has brought finality and it has allowed for forward movement in relation to criminal prosecution.”

The Prime Minister said that the criminal justice system is best served by a high performing office of the DPP.

He and Attorney General Byron gave what they cited as examples of costs being incurred because of the performance of the former DPP.

“In the May assizes I am advised that five matters were nolle prossed…by the former DPP, Mr. Sinanan.  The consequence of these actions and others is that claims just under $10 million to date, confront the tax payers of this country.  Certainly we could not allow this unnecessary hemorrhage,” Dr. Harris said.

“What it would be, it would be that you would have claims against the state for wrongful arrest,” Attorney General Byron, explained.

“There would be claims that we brought where the people who have been incarcerated – some for three years and more – who have not come before the Court.  When these matters have been withdrawn, they would bring claims against the Court.  That is fundamentally the issue that we have…been faced with. There are a number of people on remand in the prison who are yet to come before the Court, and these all have to be reviewed.  It’s an urgent matter, one of public interest and should be the focus of all citizens,” he asserted.

The Prime Minister meanwhile, announced a plan to open of a second High Court in Basseterre.

“We are hoping in 2016 we will witness the official opening of a second High Court in Basseterre.  Discussions have been between the office of the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, and the office of the Chief Justice on this most important development in the fight to enhance law and order in our country,” he said.

The Attorney General asserted that the system inherited by the Unity Government has been fraught with a lot of difficulties.

“So…for this year already, there have been a number of claims against the state, where this whole process of incarceration is being brought under scrutiny. We have some 60 people on remand…we need to be able to get them before the court to have access to justice quickly, and so we can dispense of matters where our criminal justice system is creaking.”

He said that the Team Unity Administration is trying to address flaws in the system.

“Within a couple days an acting DPP was appointed.  He will act for a short term while we advertize…locally and regionally for a top DPP to come in and take over our system as we go forward.  In addition we have been able to engage the services of Dane Hamilton QC…who will be assisting as a special prosecutor in the September Assizes both in St. Kitts and in Nevis.  He will also have as his remit to be training the staff, working with the staff in the DPP’s office, he will be working with Police investigators, so that when matters are brought before the court they are properly supported with evidence, the evidential process is done properly.”

The Attorney General says a number of the outstanding cases are being reviewed to ensure that they are put properly before the Court.

Click below to hear full item

{audio}CRIMINAL JUSTICE SINANAN COSTLY OCT 14|http://www.winnfm.com/audio/CRIMINAL JUSTICE SINANAN COSTLY OCT 14.mp3{/audio}

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