(PRESS RELEASE VIA SNO) – The Judicial Education Institute (JEI) of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) hosted its signature event the Annual Judicial Conference from July 23 – 27, 2018 for all judicial officers of the ECSC, at the Coco Palm Resort in Saint Lucia.
A two day Conference was also held for Magistrates of the OECS States and Territories.
The focus of this year’s Conference was twofold: firstly, judicial officers were introduced to and received training on the use of the recently developed draft suite of Sentencing Guidelines which will be implemented in the upcoming year. Secondly, the Conference focused on Intellectual Property facilitated by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO).
The Magistrates were also introduced to and trained in the application of the guidelines tailored to the treatment of various offences normally falling within the jurisdiction of Magistrates with particular sensitization in respect of the sentencing of young persons.
Sentencing Guidelines will inform the approach to be taken in determining a sentence. It is intended that this will result in a more uniform approach to sentencing practice, greater consistency in sentencing, transparency and in turn greater public confidence in the administration of criminal justice.
The Sentencing Guidelines Project undertaken by the ECSC is ably assisted by the United Kingdom and the United States of America under the auspices of the Criminal Justice Advisor for Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean.
This training for judicial officers was critical because it is important that the sentence imposed on an offender reflects the nature of the crime that they have committed, the personal circumstances of the offender, and is proportionate to the seriousness of the offence. It is also necessary to ensure that the courts are consistent in their approach to sentencing.
It is also important to note that the Sentencing Guidelines provide guidance only and hence they do not compel the court to impose a particular sentence, or specify the precise length of a sentence. The court is permitted to depart from the Sentencing Guidelines in an appropriate and justifiable case. Sentencing Guidelines therefore assist in maintaining the independence of the judiciary, and do not take away the discretion of the sentencing tribunal.
The training for Judges was over a five day period and the training for Magistrates over a period of two days. The training for judges commenced with an opening ceremony on Monday July 23, 2018. Present at the opening ceremony was His Excellency, Sir Emmanuel Neville Cenac, Governor General of Saint Lucia and Lady Julita Cenac, and the Hon. Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet who made opening remarks and spoke to the importance of sentencing guidelines. Hon. Gertel Thom, Chair of JEI and Justice of Appeal, welcomed the participants and thanked the Prime Minister for his continuous support to the Court.
The Honourable Chief Justice, Dame Janice M. Pereira gave a background to the Sentencing Guidelines Project and the Committee behind the development of the guidelines and thanked Ms. Sirah Abraham from the International Narcotics Section of the US Embassy who was involved in this project from inception and who committed to the development of the sentencing guidelines and the financial support from the US Embassy from beginning to end.
The Chief Justice thanked the Sentencing Advisory Committee for its tremendous effort in developing the first suite of Sentencing Guidelines proposed for implementation.
The Chief Justice also thanked the WIPO for its support in sensitizing the judges in the area of intellectual property.
The Chief Justice ended by thanking the donors especially the US Embassy, British Embassy and the WIPO without whom the Annual Judicial Conference would not have been the success that it was.
Further consultation on the draft sentencing guidelines are slated to commence with members of the legal profession and the public over the ensuing months of this year.