Sunday, April 21, 2024

EDITORIAL: Court system shake-up a priority

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THE FACT that even in the normally highly charged partisan atmosphere that currently obtains in the House of Assembly, there could be political unanimity in criticizing the exceedingly slow pace at which judicial judgments are being rendered in Barbados, clearly indicates the enormity of the national problem that this phenomenon has become.
This rarity was experienced in the House on Tuesday, when no less than two former and one current attorneys general bemoaned this highly unsatisfactory state of affairs, particularly where the Supreme Court of Barbados is concerned, noting that it had repeatedly drawn the ire of the Caribbean Court of Justice.
The bipartisan tone was set by Opposition Member of Parliament?Dale Marshall, who once served as AG and who, with characteristic measured gravitas, would have spoken for countless Barbadians across the society with his poignant observation that it was mainly litigants who suffered when the judicial system proved “unresponsive”.
Marshall received “100 per cent” support from another former AG, Prime Minister Freundel Stuart, who confessed to being “at a loss” over this predicament, when “even simple cases were among the backlog”.
Stuart’s warning that “those who have ears to hear let them hear” was echoed by present AG Adriel Brathwaite, both of who issued muted hints of possible stronger corrective action being necessary unless there was “significant improvement”.
The fact is that while Barbadians at large can empathize with the frustrations of the lawmakers and administrators, dissatisfaction with this sloth has been steadily mounting and spreading over the years to the point where the suffering individuals, businesses and other organizations have come to regard this as a pox upon the nation.
These justified critics have come to feel virtually powerless victims of a case of “old wine in new bottles”, since not even a spanking new building and the installation of the latest technology have seemingly been able to bring about badly needed enhancement to the system that has, to all intents and purposes, become chronic.
In a society that has for some six years been understandably heavily preoccupied with bringing about economic redemption, given the linchpin role this sector plays in national affairs, it is also crucial that there be similar intense focus on the administration of justice.
For after all, the judicial system and its health and effectiveness are vital to the overall well-being of the nation, since it is a core institution for ensuring social cohesion, fairness and stability by maintaining the rights of all.
Urgent remedial action should therefore be taken to prevent the system from becoming fully dysfunctional, in light of the dire implications this would have for the longevity of the way and quality of life that has become quintessentially Barbadian.

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