Site chosen for sex offences court


Tribune Staff Reporter


THE government is moving full steam ahead with its plans to establish a sexual offences court, with a site already identified to house the facility.

Other courts to be placed at appropriate locations include a family court and commercial court.

Chief Justice Ian Winder gave an update on the court projects on the sidelines of a ceremony to mark the opening of the Industrial Tribunal legal year yesterday.

“There’s an effort to establish several specialty courts – a family court, sexual offences court as well as a commercial court,” Justice Winder told reporters.

“In respect to the sexual offences court, my predecessor and the executive have identified the use of the Hansard building where the chief justice currently sits to be the sexual offences court because of its isolation and ability and the space to allow for witnesses and victims to be separated and have some more privacy in terms of giving their evidence.

“They had acquired space I think in 50 Shirley Street to relocate the chief justice and I think that move is afoot to try and advance that process.”

This comes after police reported they are actively investigating three separate incidents of sexual assault that allegedly occurred over the weekend.

One incident happened on the island of Andros and the others on New Providence.

After assuming office last year, Attorney General Ryan Pinder lamented the need for a series of specialty courts, saying they were required “not only for the proper administration of justice, but also in order to ensure the efficiency we all desire.”

As it relates to establishment of a family court, the chief justice said work was also underway in this regard.

“They have identified a site and they’re moving to establish those courts to bring the Magistrate’s Courts to deal with family matters as well as the Supreme Court to deal with family matters in one space to provide for a smooth and better transition of more privacy for matters in place for the family,” he continued.

Justice Winder also addressed concerns about the backlog of Coroner Court’s inquests, especially as it relates to police-involved shootings.

The hearings were initially delayed because of COVID-19 pandemic.

Later, former Coroner Jeanine Weech-Gomez was sworn in as a Supreme Court justice, causing further delays as officials waited to replace her.

Magistrate Kara Turnquest-Deveaux was named acting coroner in September 2021. But, police related coroner’s inquests have still not resumed despite her appointment to the post.

In April, National Security Minister Wayne Munroe told this newspaper the hearings had not yet resumed because the director of public prosecutions had yet to appoint a lawyer to marshal the cases.

And according to Justice Winder yesterday, officials were still working to address the matter.

“We’re still trying to work through the process,” he said. “A major hurdle is actually trying to get a marshal. The prosecution, the attorney general and the police would provide a marshal to marshal the evidence. We only hear the evidence. It has been marshalled and I think there was a difficulty in identifying a prosecutor, perhaps the attorney general... you can find out if he’s identified (one) but there is a police prosecutor and some coroner’s inquests are going on, but the police-involved shootings which I think is probably the greater concern, they are waiting for a marshal to get most of those underway but there are coroner’s inquest being conducted.”

Meanwhile, as it relates to manpower, the chief justice said his office is seeking to appoint between four to five judges in the early new year.

Commenting has been disabled for this item.