By DENISE MAYCOCK
Tribune Freeport Reporter
CHIEF Justice Brian Moree believes that a “deepening” of the independence of the judiciary is needed so that the judiciary can make its own decisions to carry out its mandate.
While in Grand Bahama on Thursday, Mr Moree was asked his response to a sermon delivered at the opening of the legal year by Canon Norman Lightbourne who indicated that an independent judiciary is “paramount” – one that is free from political interference.
Mr Moree noted that the independence of the judiciary is an absolutely fundamental principle in the Westminster system of government in the Bahamas, and agreed that it is of paramount importance.
“I am very pleased to say traditionally that principle has been accepted by all branches of government. Sometimes in reality…when it comes to actual allocation of resources and financial support, the judiciary and the courts have not always gotten our fair share of the national resources that we say we need to be able to do our job properly,” he said.
“But, certainly, in the context of discharging our judicial functions the judges and magistrates, and registrars are completely independent of all other branches of government, and that has been accepted by all governments successively.”
However, Mr Moree believes that the deepening of that independence is required, and the judiciary left to handle its own affairs.
“We do need to deepen our independence by providing the judiciary with its own resources so it can build its own institutional capacity because we don’t want to run the judiciary as another ministry of the government, or as a branch, or as an agency where we all depend upon the Cabinet for decisions and funding – that is not what we want. That is what we really mean when we say the courts and the judiciary are independent. We need to be able to make our decisions in terms of the Bahamian people to carry out our mandate to provide due dispense of justice in the country.”
“We need to be left alone to run our own affairs, but we need to account to Parliament and to the Bahamian people for the resources that we are using.”
He believes that the principle of the independence of the judiciary is of high constitutional importance.
“It can’t just be theory, it has to actually be practical, and so we are working to deepen that a bit more,” Mr Moree said.
When asked about the condition of the courts, Mr Moree said that the physical premises of courts in Freeport are better than those in Nassau.
The Garnet Levarity Justice is presently under major renovation after judiciary staff complained of unacceptable conditions, particularly mould infestation as a result of a leaky roof.
The building had also fallen in a state of disrepair, and staff had to also contend with unbearable conditions due to the non-functioning AC unit.
A $2 million contract was awarded by the government to address the issues at the courthouse building. However, in early September, the renovations were setback due to flooding by the storm. Work has since recommenced at the courthouse.
Chief Justice Moree said courts in Freeport are in better shape compared to Nassau.
“Some of the buildings we are occupying in Nassau are in a terrible state of disrepair. The roofs have been leaking for many years and courts are disrupted during bad weather, which is unacceptable in 2020 for a country like the Bahamas.
“What we are trying to do is get the government to commit to building a new court complex in Nassau where we would be able to concentrate all of the courts and registries, and all of our services in a single building which is designed and customized for courthouses,” he added.
He indicated that a new complex would be “immensely helpful” in making the courts more productive and efficient.
In an effort to modernize and reform the court system, Chief Justice Moree said that plans are to develop a judiciary and court system that is acceptable to the 21st century.
He says that they will need to introduce a technology platform.
“Today, we have very little technology in our court system – this is unacceptable. And so I try to work with my colleagues and stakeholders where we will introduce an ICT platform right across the courts,” he said.
“It will allow us to put in place an integrated case management system that will allow us to monitor our cases, and help us clear out some of the backlogs. And once we get this system in place where we have an ICT platform installed, we are going to be bringing online within the next 24 to 36 months a whole series of e-services which will hang off this basic technology architecture,” Mr Moree said.
Well_mudda_take_sic 3 years, 5 months ago
Who does Moree think he's kidding? We all know that Lady Justice in our country lacks a blindfold and that if you don't have the financial means to seek justice up the ladder, often all the way to the Privy Council, then you may find yourself without real access to justice despatched by an independent judiciary.
Many of us are appalled at the fact that QC and Knighthood designations are now handed out like candy to those willing to do the PM's bidding, including serve as CJ when called on to do so. Is every CJ really deserving and worthy of a knighthood as a favour for their willingness to serve as CJ? That's certainly points to a serious quid pro quo arrangement that threatens the independence of the judiciary. Oh well, it is what it is.
TalRussell 3 years, 5 months ago
I sheepishly held out hope my part that just maybe we new comrade Chief Justice Brian - might've exercised the CJ's sole discretion shed the colonial costume trappings red robe and horses hair piece - along with declining Queen's Knighthood.
bogart 3 years, 5 months ago
The entire judiciary on this small island needs to be reviewed in selecting officiers especially when the leaders of POLITICIAL PARTY and imputs from their ruling party and other sources and political leader of party makes the appointment of a selected position. Alot seems to go on in secret.
It is clearly known that Political Party on this small island makes Political APPOINTMENTS TO THEIR OWN POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS to BOARDS OF DIRECTORS, and other Political Appointments to ruling govt positions, CORPORATION Boards, entities govt controlled Bahamas, Mortgage Corporation, Govt Development Bank, Bank of the Bahamas etc to best carry out the political mandate of the political party. AND political party leader makes appointments to Judiciary.
After ruling govt political appointees already appointed to ruling Boards etc. it is narrow selection when these prior political appointed then be JUDICIARY APPOINTED by same or other or together with other LEADER OF THE OTHER POLITICAL PARTY. May seems while impartial judges question would be raised on seems half the entire appointed serving judges having served on politically appointments or other service on BOARDS of continuous money losing entities overseen. And continuous people taxes, subjentions to like Bank of the BahamaS and other Boards where forensics audits may or may not arise to Court Actions. Many concerns on govt entities have come up but nothing seems to happen an all covered up.
Clearly ANY VACANCY FOR JUDICIARY and increasing independent and Transparency MUST START WITH A CLEARLY ADVERTISEMENT AD FOR THE POSITION IN ALL THE PAPERS, AND MEDIA AND ON EVERY ISLAND. This gives a chance of every Bahamas Bar Association total better chances of imput, erry citizen on entire nation have an opportunity to imput on vacancy of Judiciary officials.
sealice 3 years, 4 months ago
deepening the independance of the judiciary from the political liars and thieves has been needed since we were british - and Mr. Moree isn't saying what he really feels because otherwise (seperate the politics) he would have never been nominated for the position by the FNM.....
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