(SNO) – In his April 2018 Budget Address, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet announced that government is at an “advanced” stage in finalising the financing for the construction of the Halls of Justice, police headquarters, and Gros-Islet Police Station.
At a press briefing in late May, National Security Minister Hermangild Francis confirmed the prime minister’s statements by disclosing that a decision has already been taken on the location for the new Halls of Justice.
He did not disclose the location, saying it wasn’t the right time as yet, however he noted that it will not be constructed at Barnard Hill where the National Cultural Centre is currently situated.
His comments were disclosed at the time, when quizzed about the status of the High Court sittings at Nyerah Court, John Compton Highway, which ceased for a number of weeks due to security concerns by courtroom staff and jurors concerning a high-profile criminal case, among other reasons,.
The closure has caused a backlog of cases and frustration from the public.
Francis had promised to give an update on the status of the court by May 30, 2018.
At the late-May briefing Francis said: “I think we have done very well with the backlog of cases. The only difficulty we have now is the closure of Nyerah Court. And based on the fact that there was this high profile case, and all of a sudden the staff decided that it was unsafe for them to work there. Like I said before, I agree with them. This was not a building fitted out for a courtroom. It was given to them by the last government. We inherited this and we are now in the process of looking for an area where we can build a proper Hall of Justice. But I agree that we have to do something with Nyerah Court, so that we can start back dealing with criminal matters…. It will back up but I don’t think it will go back to where it was three years ago.”
He added: “We are now opening the Magistrate’s Court on St. Lewis Street. It is going to be open, so there are going to be courts there. It is really the High Court that is not functional now. Some of the cases are high-rate cases, that we can actually take it to the Magistrate’s Court. If the accused or the lawyers decide they want to take plea bargains, we may be able to do that. But it is not a lost cause, but I think we definitely have to reopen Nyerah Court as quickly as possible. But we are opening the Magistrate’s Courts soon.”