The wheels of justice should turn a bit faster as plans for “Night Courts” could result in the backlog of cases being reduced.
In a recent interview with the Government Information Agency (GINA), Minister of Public Security and Vice President, Khemraj Ramjattan, said that the proposed night courts would, “start from 4pm (16:00 hrs) and go on into the nighttime so it will have a little daytime aspect to it.”
The Minister is keen to have the Court sessions last for at least four hours. That would mean that they would end at about 20:00 hrs. He said, there are concerns about going later. “I doubt whether, if we go deep into the night that the magistrates and the court staff will want to work that deep into the night,” Ramjattan said.
Having ‘night courts’ along with the appointment of temporary magistrates would help to ease the backlog affecting the Courts.
According to Ramjattan, the idea of temporary magistrates was put forward by Chancellor (ag.), Justice Carl Singh during a recent high level meeting. He said the Chancellor suggested that this measure be used over a period of at least six months.
Ramjattan revealed that a recent report on the judicial system has been completed and this would form the basis for action.
He said the report also looked at prisoners who could be given probation or community service for less severe sentences.
Ramjattan said the temporary magistrates would be qualified lawyers who would serve in addition to the sitting magistrates.
The use of more police ranks or probation officers to supervise persons sentenced to do community service would also be initiated, Ramjattan said, noting that the current method of having the police or probation ranks dictate the type of community sentence to be served, would have to be amended.
The cost of these and other measures, including salaries for the temporary magistrates and ancillary staff, has been estimated to about $25 million dollars.
The Finance Minister has given his approval for the release of the funds and according to Ramjattan, this has also been communicated to Justice Singh.
The backlog of cases in local courts have adversely affected the increasingly overcrowded prison population which has led to dangerous conditions throughout the penal system.