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• PM Gonsalves confident of fourth term Page 4 • User fees to be implemented for justice Page 11

Issue No. 2

Thursday September 20, 2012

St Vincent and the Grenadines

EC$1.00

Newly-appointed Chief Justice says economic downturn impacting the judiciary, but ...

No compromise on quality justice!

Special coverage see pages 5 to 15


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Magistrate alarmed at gun culture among youth Senior Magistrate Donald has expressed alarm at the frequency with which youngsters are arrested and charged with crimes involving the use of firearms or possession of unlicensed firearms. The District 1 magistrate commented on the situation as he dealt with a matter involving a sixteen year old who was charged with possession of a firearm and ammunition without license. ”Just last week in five days we had five murders. But

look who have the guns. They are following what happen on TV. But what is happening on TV is not real because when the camera moves those who were shot get up. In real life there is no camera to move and those who are shot are dead for real,” said the Senior Magistrate. On the evening of Wednesday August 29th, 2012, taxi driver Calvert Patterson of Layou was shot and killed at Argyle. On Saturday September 1st, 2012, around midday, Evans

Lynch of Layou was shot and killed. On Sunday September 2nd, 2012, at about 7.30 p.m. Uroy ‘Laybay’ Robinson of Evesham was shot and killed at Walvaroo. Twenty-six year old Andy Quashie, twenty-six year old Billy Adams and seventeen year old Adolphus Foye, all of Layou, were arrested and charged with Lynch’s murder. Twenty year old Danny Lewis of Walvaroo was charged with Robinson’s murder.

Thursday September 20, 2012

Teenager on firearm, ammunition charges Sixteen year old Tywon John of Campden Park was arrested and charged last Friday with possession of a 38 Special revolver which carried the serial number B219718 and possession of 6 rounds of .38 ammunition without license. John was taken before the Kingstown Magistrate Court on Monday morning. He pleaded not guilty to both charges. Asked if he was still attending school, John replied yes and said he was a student of the Bethel High School. The Prosecutor, Inspector Glenford Gregg rose and told John he must tell the court the truth. He said that John was not a student. John did not contest what the prosecutor said. On the question of bail, the prosecutor said he was not objecting but was asking for conditions to be attached. Senior Magistrate Donald

Browne said he would indeed put conditions to the bail. He asked the prosecution to show him the firearm. The prosecutor, displaying the weapon, informed the court that it was examined by an expert at the Special Services Unit and found to be in good working condition. Senior Magistrate Browne commented that at age sixteen John was allegedly found with a 38 Special revolver and six rounds of ammunition. He said that when he was at age sixteen the only gun he knew was a ‘bird gun.’ “Now, these sixteen year old have the real Mc Coy,” Senior Magistrate Browne stated. Bail was open to John but at the end of the sitting of the court later that day, no one had posted his bail He was remanded in custody pending the signing of his bail bond.

RRU nabs ganja peddler Officers from the Rapid Response Unit (RRU), commonly known as the ‘Black Squad,’ were on mobile patrol when they arrested Richland Park resident Lennis Jobe last Friday, seizing his marijuana and money which were the proceeds of sales. The forty-five year old Jobe appeared before the Kingstown Magistrate Court on Monday and pleaded guilty to possessing 106 grammes of cannibis with intent to supply. The prosecutor, Inspector Glenford Gregg told the court that the drug was wrapped in 74 bombs which indicate that they were prepared for sale and that the law officers had confiscated EC$74.00 which could be reasonably concluded were the proceeds of sale. Senior Magistrate Donald Browne informed Jobe that the law makers were viewing the

ganja trade with such seriousness that they have passed new legislation which says a person can be fined a maximum of $500,000.00 for marijuana possession at the magisterial court and a maximum of $1.5 million at the High Court. He noted that according to law a person is deemed to have intent to supply where the amount is 10 grammes and more but the law does not state from what quantity a person can be given the maximum penalty. Lawyer Ronald Marks, commenting as a friend of the court, noted that the law also states that a person can be fined up to three times the street value of the drug and imprisoned. Jobe was given a financial penalty of $1,200.00 to be paid forthwith or an alternative sentence of 9 months in prison. Police said that Jobe paid the fine.


Thursday September 20, 2012

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NEWS

Opposition NDP candidates in court following protests, election petitions Two members of the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) appeared before the Kingstown Magistrate Court last week to answer criminal charges filed against them following the party’s protest actions and filing of election petitions against some Government ministers. On Tuesday September 11, 2012, NDP candidate for South Windward, Burton Williams appeared in court to answer charges that (1) within the precincts of the House of Assembly he behaved in a manner where a breach of the peace was likely to occur, contrary to Section 15 of the Public Order Act, CAP. 396 of the Laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines; and (2) with intent to commit the offence of damage to property, did an act which was more than merely preparatory to the commission of that offence; contrary to Section 315 (1) of the Criminal Code CAP. 171 of the Laws of St Vincent and the Grenadines. Williams pleaded not guilty to both charges. Williams was charged a long time ago but the matter never got started as it was adjourned a number of times. The Senior Magistrate had given the matter final adjournment dates twice. It eventually got started on Tuesday as the main witness and arresting officer police constable Godwin Charles was due to leave this country to settle overseas that same evening. The trial began on just after 1.30 p.m. and lasted just over two and a half hours. PC Charles told the court that on Friday January 28th, 2011, he was dispatched on duty to the NDP’s protest march and rally held in Kingstown. He said that between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. he was in the area of the House of Assembly and the Building and Loan and he heard Williams making statements on a public address system

West St George candidate in the December 2010 general elections, Senator Vynnette Frederick at political meeting (File photo).

and saw him and others ramming the main gate to the House of Assembly. Williams is to reappear in court on September 25, 2012. The charges arose from a protest march and rally organized by the NDP on January 28, 2011, as Government took two Bills to Parliament - (1) the Criminal Procedure Code 2011 (Amendment) Bill which sought to amend Section 69 of the said Act and (2) amendment of Section 51 of the Representation of the People Act of 1982 by repealing sub-sections 3 and 4 which deal with penalties. On Wednesday September 12, 2012, Senator Vynnette Frederick who contested the December 2010 general elections for the West St George constituency was arrested and charged with three counts of perjury—charges which arose out of complaints Frederick filed against Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves last year following the December 2010 general elections and particularly a judgment handed down by the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal earlier this year in relation to one of the matters which came before that court. Hers was among a number of petitions filed by some NDP candidates stemming from statements alleged to have been made by some members of the ruling Unity

After testifying last Tuesday afternoon, Special Branch officer PC Godwin Charles (left) shook hands with the NDP candidate and former Minister of Health Burton Williams outside the court room hours before he was scheduled to leave this country to settle overseas. Labour Party during political campaigns for the December 2010 general elections. The complaint filed by Frederick against Dr Gonsalves was made under Section 51 (3) of the Representation of the People Act of 1982. Frederick alleged that at a ULP public meeting at Park Hill on August 29, 2010, Dr Gonsalves brought her sexuality into question using the word “tomboy” as the crowd shouted the word “lesbian.” In an affidavit of June 16, 2011, she stated that having listened to an audio recording of the meeting she concluded that the word “tomboy” used by Dr Gonsalves in reference to her must be viewed against the backdrop of the crowd chanting “lesbian.” In an affidavit on May 23, 2012, she stated that the word “lesbian” was “inadvertently inserted” in the previous affidavit.

Frederick is charged that on January 10, 2011, at Kingstown she made a false declaration before Chief Magistrate Sonya Young, a person authorized to take a declaration upon a matter of public concern, under the circumstances that a false declaration if committed in a judicial proceeding would have amounted to perjury contrary to Section 96, CAP 171 of the Criminal Code. She is also charged with making false declarations before Fay James on June 16, 2011, and May 23, 2012. Frederick pleaded not guilty to the three charges and was released on bail in the sum of $10,000.00 with one surety. Frederick is being represented by Mira Commissiong, Maia Eustace, Nicole Sylvester, Samantha Robertson and her father, Bayliss Frederick. Frederick is scheduled to return to court on November 16, 2012.


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“We will defeat them!”

Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves

Prime Minister and leader of the Unity Labour Party, Dr Ralph Gonsalves has expressed confidence in defeating the opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) for the fourth consecutive time to match the record set by the said NDP under the leadership of former Prime Minister Sir James Mithchell. Dr Gonsalves, who is using the Argyle In-

ternational Airport — the biggest public sector project to date — as a trump card in the general elections said the NDP believes the elections will be held before the completion of the airport because of the $7 million worth of building materials imported recently. He said that the building materials are for the construction of low income houses in various parts of the country. The airport is scheduled for completion late next year. It is expected to be operational by the middle of 2014. “They expect me to call elections before I land in a 747 at the Argyle International Airport?” Gonsalves asked last week Monday as he addressed a ceremony for the handing over of 5 newly constructed houses and 62 plots of residential land at Langley Park. “We will defeat them because we have shown our mettle during good times, which we have helped to create, and some difficult times which we did not create. Those difficult times have come on us from outside,” he also stated. The Dr Gonsalves-led Unity Labour Party has won elections in March 2001, December 2005 and December 2010. Elections are constitutionally due in 2015.

PSU threatens industrial action over delayed salary increase payment More than twenty months after they were to receive their 3% salary increase, public servants are still waiting and they have no guarantee how soon it will come. The 3% increase, the third segment of 12% increase over three years—20092011— was to be paid in January 2011 but Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves said that in light of the global economic downturn the government could not afford to pay then. He promised that the payment would be made by end of June 2011 on condition that the economic situation improved. At the end of June the salary increase was still not honoured and a promise was further made to pay retroactively by the end of the year.

That obligation was again not honoured and during the 2012 budget presentation Prime Minister Gonsalves again promised to pay by mid year. The Public Service Union, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers Union and other bodies representing public servants met with Prime Minister Gonsalves some time around June this year to try to have the matter resolved. It is understood that the unions suggested that he pay the public servants 1.3% then and the balance at the end of the year, retroactively. But, the Prime Minister, according to reports, said he could not even honour such request. In 2008, during the second phase of the public service reclassification exercise (R2),

the unions asked for a 26% salary increases over a two year period (11% in 2009 and 15% in 2010) but Prime Minister Gonsalves during the budget presentation in November that year announced a decision to pay increase of 12% over three years (4% in 2009, 5% in 2010 and 3% in 2011) – a move which heightened tension between the government and the unions and spurred calls for arbitration. At an emergency meting held by the SVGTU at the Anglican School in Kingstown in 2008 by to discuss Cabinet's rejection of the union's proposal in 2008, then General Secretary Philbert John said the government was attempting to “pauperize teachers.”

Thursday September 20, 2012

Canadian citizenship not for sale, says Minister Over 3,000 persons are listed in a process of citizenship revocation by the Canadian Government. “We are taking action to strip citizenship and permanent residence status from people who don’t play by the rules and who lie or cheat to become a Canadian citizen,” said Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney at a news conference in Ottawa last week Monday as his government crackdown on persons suspected of acquiring Canadian citizenship or permanent residence fraudulently. “Canadian citizenship is not for sale,” he said. The crackdown on the over 3,000 persons is part of a massive investigation of about 11,000 persons who are suspected of lying to acquire citizenship status. According to reports, of the 11,000 persons, almost 5,000 with permanent resident status have been flagged for additional scrutiny should they try to enter Canada or obtain citizenship. Also, an additional 2,500 files have been flagged for other concerns and will be watched closely in the event those persons make other applications. “We do know from all of the intelligence we have gathered, that many of, if not most of, the asylum claimants coming from the European Union are attracted in part because they immediately qualify for welfare benefits when they get to Canada, the Immigration Minister told reporters, adding that ninety-five percent of EU claimants abandon or withdraw their own claims or have their claims rejected by the Immigration and Refugee Board. The Immigration Minister advised that provinces enforce a waiting period for

asylum claimants before entitling them to government benefits. “We have asked Ontario to review the eligibility rules for welfare. We don’t think it’s helpful to create a pull factor for false claims,” Kenney said. Reports say over 600 former permanent residents have been removed or denied admittance while over 500 applications for citizenship have been rejected to date. It has been observed that in recent times a number of Vincentians have been returning home — some by deportation. Canadian authorities have time and again expressed concern and commented on the situation where numerous Vincentians have applied for refugee status claiming they risked political victimization or danger to their lives by persons of criminal intent. The Canadian authorities have also expressed concerns about the fact that deportees were able to acquire new Vincentian passports under other names to find their way back into the North American country. Earlier this year, twentythree year old Mark John Dublin od Arnos Vale was imprisoned for using a dead person’s birth certificate to obtain a national Identification card and a passport after he was deported from Canada last year. Dublin was able to obtain the passport in days after he told immigration authorities here that his wife was in Canada pregnant and she had a medical condition. Dublin left here late December, last year. The crime was discovered months later and the Canadian authorities were immediately informed. Dublin was located in Canada and deported again.


Thursday September 20, 2012

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SPECIAL COVERAGE

Special sitting of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court mark opening

New law year 2012-2013


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Thursday September 20, 2012

Special sitting of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to mark opening of new law year 2012-2013

Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court Members of the Bar, Justices of both the High Court and Court of Appeal of the Eastern Caribbean gathered at the Supreme Court in capital Kingstown on Tuesday September 18 for a Special Sitting to mark the opening of the new law year 2012-2013 in the sub-region. The Special Sitting of the Court followed an ecumenical service at the Cathedral of the Assumption which formed part of the day’s official activities to mark the opening of the new law term. Following the ecumenical service, Judges, lawyers, diplomats, police and prison officers, former British Air Force officer and leader of the SVG Green Party, Ivan O’Neal, court employees and Girl Guides marched to the Court House a procession led by the Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force Band. In the court yard, newlyappointed acting Chief Justice Janice Pereira took the salute before inspecting the parade. During the Special Sitting of the Court, chair person of the proceedings Justice Gertel Thom gave welcome remarks following which addresses were made by members of the Bar and Bench. In her remarks, Justice Thom noted that the Special Sitting was an historic occasion because it was the first time since the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court was established forty-five years ago that the Chief Justice’s address was to be delivered by a female.– Chief Justice Janice Pereira, She congratulated Justice Pereira on her appointment to the post. She said Justice Pereira brought with her thirty-one years of experience in the field of law and during that period she served in several positions in administration which included the office of Registrar General, Registrar of the Supreme Court and Registrar of Companies/Registrar of International Business Companies in the British Virgin Islands. In acknowledging the contribution made by her predecessor, Sir Hugh Rawlings who retired at the end of July this year, Justice Pereira expressed gratitude to him for his unrelenting service to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. She said he has

Members of the legal profession march from the Cathedral of the Assumption to the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in Kingstown on Tuesday morning. joined the rank of the many Chief Justices who have served the Court as inspiring jurists and remarkable mentors and pledged commitment to continue the good work. She said he left an “indelible mark” on the jurisprudence “through his erudite judgments and formidable leadership” which provided guidance over the past four years. She said the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court would be eternally grateful for his sterling contribution to the advancement of justice. In delivering the feature address, Chief Justice Pereira spoke of a number of projects and programmes to be implemented to strengthen the structures of the Court which are aimed at providing a better environment to improve efficiency and delivery of quality justice. Speaking on the theme of her presentation, ‘Improving Efficiency And Integrity In The Administration Of Justice In Times Of Economic Adversity,’ she said efficiency and integrity are ingrained in the mission and vision statements of the Eastern

Caribbean Court to serve member States by providing access to its system of justice that is accountable and independent in a prompt, fair, effective and efficient manner. She said that inherent in access to justice is the guarantee that each citizen is able to acquire the necessary knowledge, understanding, awareness and ability to exercise his or her right to justice through formal, as well as informal, institutions. “Public education and community outreach is a crucial factor as we seek to facilitate this knowledge, understanding and awareness. Additionally, in our bid to maintain accountability and transparency, information about the court should always be accessible and pertinent to those whom we serve so that they can better understand the workings of our Court,” Chief Justice Pereira said. Chief Justice Pereira said the Court’s website, www.eccourts.org, has proven to be a very “practical and economical tool” in making information accessible to all persons wishing to access it. She said that over the

years the Court has continually sought to maintain a website that is easily navigable with timely updates to provide requisite information. She said the website provides access to judgments in all of the nine member States and territories both at the High Court and Appeal Court levels and also report decisions of the Privy Council from the Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal. This facilitates equity in access to information. Chief Justice Pereira said that the judiciary seeks to promote efficiency and integrity and maintain the trust of the people of the region. She said the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court is committed to initiating, supporting and participating in programmes designed to enhance the public’s understanding of the law and the judicial system, the role and functions of the court and the way Judges rule according to law, thus keeping the community informed and confident in a system that eschews inequity and embraces equality to all.


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Special sitting of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to mark opening of new law year 2012-2013

New law term officially begins Continued from Page 10 As a result, we are proposing in the coming year to commence an outreach programme to promote court transparency. It is intended that this initiative include educational programmes for schools, media, counsel using forums such as television/radio interviews, newspaper articles, Judges discussions and the like and conferences. It is also proposed to have bulletins as are necessary published on the website all in an effort to continue improving access to justice and maintaining confidence in the judiciary. Chief Justice Pereira presented an update on the Court’s achievement on reform initiatives. She said that much has been said over the past year about a court structure project— the Halls of Justice project and the integration of the magistracy project. She said that at the close of the 2011 calendar year, the final report on the feasibility study for the Halls of Justice project was completed and in the coming year the Court intend to move into the next phase of the project which is the preparation of final designs to include mechanical and electrical drawings and the tendering stage for construction. She said the court will consider the interest shown regionally and internationally for involvement of private sector-led initiatives in funding the project at both the national and regional level. “However, careful analysis would be done on the proposed terms offered to the governments by those entities. Chief Justice Pereira said the Court has presented the proposals to the Heads of Governments of the Eastern Caribbean for their approval and it is now ready to progress to the next stage. She said much of the work done has been funded by a grant from the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB) for which the Court was “very grateful.” She said efforts were continuing to secure “as much do-

ABOVE: Senior police officers, prison officers, diplomats and service organization members march to the Cathedral of the Assumption Tuesday morning. BELOW: The Royal St Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force Band lead the procession

nor funding as possible” for the other phases of the project. On the issue of the integration of the magistracy, Justice Pereira said the Court’s main focus had been procurement of funds for the completion of

the main programme of events leading to the greater integration of the magistracy into the judiciary. She said she was pleased to announce that a Practice Note entitled Magistrate Style and Title and Dress in Court

was issued by her predecessor, Sir Hugh Rawlins. She said that the purpose of the Practice Note is to change the manner of dress for magistrates with the intention of promoting uniformity in the Eastern Caribbean Su-


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Thursday September 20, 2012

Special sitting of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to mark opening of new law year 2012-2013 Continued from page 11

preme Court in the style and title for magistrates and to permit magistrates to wear robes when they preside in the court and at other official functions. According to Just ice Pereira, the Practice Law which came into effect on September 1, 2012. provides that magistrates should now be addressed as ‘Your Honour’ instead of ‘Your Worship’ and for them to be robed on the Bench. “This, though seemingly a small step, is indeed momentous as it is one step closer to the full integration of the magistracy,” Justice Pereira stated. Addressing the issue of salary for magistrates, the newly-appointed Chief Justice said that a comparative study was conducted on the salaries and emoluments of magistrates across the ninemember States as a precursor to efforts aimed at harmonization and standardization of salaries and remuneration across member States and territories. She issues relating to remuneration were of extreme importance if the Court was to attract quality persons to the judiciary to continue achieving the desired improvement in access to justice. She said that in the coming law year the Court will continue to “aggressively pursue this project with the eventual aim of achieving full integration of the magistracy into the judiciary.” Dealing with court structures, Justice Pereira said that in the criminal division the increase of matters filed in the courts has propelled the Court to aggressively pursue implementing the Specialized Criminal Division in the judiciary with a view to providing a more effective case management system in criminal matters. She said that the criminal division pilot project was

A wealth of experience. Foreground: Three of the Queen’s Counsels in St Vincent and the Grenadines. Lef to right: Former Attorney General, Carlyle Dougan QC; Vice President of the OECS Bar Association, Bertram Commissiong QC and former Attorney General Parnel Campbell QC. Also in the grouping are veteran solicitor Theodore Browne and Carl Joseph

successfully implemented in St Lucia and that work on similar projects continue to progress in other member States and territories across the Eastern Caribbean where all indications show that continued successful implementation was imminent. She said that over the last year the Court focused on evaluation in St Lucia as part of a strategy to improve the system prior to replication in other member States and territories. She said that comments and complaints about the new system and its effectiveness were investigated that the results will be communicated via the Court’s website. She said that work was continuing in the criminal division in other member States and territories with progress reported in Grenada and Dominica. Justice Pereira said that new case management procedures have been proposed to coexist with existing laws and practices in those member States and she was happy to

report that the new procedures were already circulated and discussed with the magistrates and Judges of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, the territory of the Virgin Islands and St Vincent and the Grenadines. She said they will serve the system well in the management of criminal cases. Justice Pereira said further that sentencing and bail guideline documents adopted from the British court were introduced and discussed with the judicial officers of the High Court and the Magistrate Court and that it was hoped that the guideline would enhance the sentencing and bail regime throughout the jurisdiction. Dealing with the Family Division of the Court, Justice Pereira said the Court was ever mindful of the role of sound family structures in attaining stability in societies. As a result, a Special Committee was established to make recommendations on the implementation of a Fam-

ily Division using one administrative space in a manner similar to the division. She said that in December 2011, that committee, headed by now retired Justice of Appeal Ola-Mae Edwards, submitted a report to the then Chief Justice. She said that in that report the committee made a number of recommendations pertaining to jurisdictional limits of magistrates and High Courts in family matters. The development of Family Court Rules to supplement the Civil Procedure Rules where applicable in handling family matters as well as a proposal for a new definition of Family Matters. She said the Family Court project, now in its pilot stage in Grenada, has made limited progress and with the recent completion of the consultancy and the discussion of the consultant’s report and the stakeholders conference held in Grenada last June, the Court was anticipat ing “further progress in the coming year.” She said work will

continue on the pilot projects in Antigua and Dominica as UNICEF has finalized all of the grant for procurement of a consulting drafts person to complete the process of implementation of the OECS Family Law Model Legislation in the two member States and to assist the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in drafting Family Court Rules. The Special Sitting was also addressed by Court of Appeal Judges Justices Davidson Baptiste, Louise Blenman and Mario Michel. The Special Sitting was also attended by Deputy Prime Minister Girlyn Miguel, Cabinet Ministers Cecil Mc Kie, Elvis Charles and Speaker of the House of Assembly Hendrick Alexander.

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Thursday September 20, 2012

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Special sitting of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to mark opening of new law year 2012-2013

New Chief Justice says no compromise on quality justice Newly appointed Chief Justice (Ag) of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Justice Janice Pereira has given the assurance that the quality of justice in the subregion will not be compromised despite harsh economic times resulting mainly from the international financial melt-down. Chief Justice Pereira gave the assurance as she delivered the feature address at the Special Sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in Kingstown on Tuesday September 18, 2012, to mark the start of the 2012-2013 new lay year. Chief Justice Pereira said the people of the sub-region are living in “extremely difficult economic times where sustainability demands that busi-

nesses responsibly manage limited resources and still remain productive.” She said managing the affairs of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court was no different from managing businesses. “The impact of the economic downturn is being felt in all of our member States and territories and no less so on the judiciary. The case load of our courts continue to increase steadily which in turn has led to increased administrative cost,” Chief Justice Pereira said. The newly-appointed acting Chief Justice further stated, “In the face of shrinking budgets and decreased contributions. However, the judiciary of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, although

faced with resultant challenges — one of which is the optimal quota of Judges — will continue to maintain its efficiency with the available resources. I wish to emphasize that the quality of justice will not be compromised—not even in these harsh and difficult economic times. With that commitment, the judiciary has embarked on several initiatives to help improve efficiency in the face of the worldwide adversity which has impacted all member States and territories.” The theme of her presentation was: “Improving Efficiency And Integrity In The Administration Of Justice In Times Of Economic Adversity.”

Chief Justice Janice Pereira delivering her address on Tuesday

QC: Why pay for silk? Queen’s Counsel believes new Chief Justice will be called to CCJ

Bertram Commissiong, QC Queen’s Counsel Bertram Commissiong, has expressed firm belief that very soon requests will be made for newly-appointed Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Justice Janice Pereira to be transferred to the Caribbean Court of Jus-

tice. The Queen Counsel’s belief comes even at a time when St Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines are seeking to have the CCJ replace the Privy Council as the final appellate court. “My lady, I have one fear about your appointment. Because of your erudition … and it is true, because of your experience and your expertise it might not be long before you are invited to go to the CCJ,” said Commissiong who has been very out-spoken over the years on the proposed shift from the Privy Council as this country’s final court of appeal. “I shudder at that. I really shudder at that,” the Queen’s Council added. Commissiong said he would not in the least be surprised if Justice Pereira becomes Chief Justice of the CCJ especially since the present head is close to retirement age and there have been questions as to a successor.

Veteran lawyer Bertram Commissiong has raised eyebrows over the proposed payment of thousands of dollars for those qualify to receive silk conferment. At a special sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court here on Tuesday, the Queen’s Counsel latched on to the issue after Chief Justice Janice Pereira mentioned it in her address. “And finally My Lady, I beg you, I implore you to sort out this difficult question of silk. Your predecessor tried but what he proposed was not altogether satisfactory. Commissiong QC said that five thousand dollars upfront was something of a “deterrent” and the payment of ten thousand dollars was “over the top.” “If you have reached the stage in the profession where

you should be elevated to silk, why should you have to pay for it?” the Queen’s Counsel asked. ‘If you are asked to pay administrative cost I can understand that, but ten thousand dollars is over the top. I think that really seriously needs to be looked at.” Commissiong said there were some persons who had already been vetted and passed for silk under the old regime and they had been left hanging. He said he thought it “utterly unfair” to ask them to make new applications under the new regime where they will have now have to pay $10,000.00. Commissiong said he hoped that “this ten thousand dollars thing would disappear” when Chief Justice Pereira puts things in place.


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Thursday September 20, 2012

Special sitting of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to mark opening of new law year 2012-2013

AG is interested party in move for CCJ to replace Privy Council As legal advisor to the Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines, Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan says she is an interested party in St Lucia’s bid to replace the London-based Privy Council with the Caribbean Court of Justice which was established in 2005. At t or ney Gener al Jones-Morgan said that the agreement establishing the CCJ envisioned that that Court would become the final court of appeal for all CARICOM States that accede to its appellate jurisdiction. She said that the Government of St Lucia desires to accede to the appellate jurisdiction of the CCJ and if it is successful based on constitution then the CCJ will replace the Londonbased Privy Council. She said the Attorney

General of St Lucia has already received Cabinet’s approval there and has filed an Attorney General’s Reference to the court. At t or ney Gener al Jones-Morgan was at the time addressing a Special Sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in Kingstown to mark the opening of the new law year 2012-2013 on Tuesday. “And since St Vincent and the Grenadines is also desirous to the CCJ’s appellate jurisdiction, the determination of this advisory opinion will be of considerable importance in resolving the same questions in respect of the St Vincent constitution. Therefore, the Attorney General of St Vincent is an interested party who may be notified of the meeting of this reference and may be entitled to be heard

Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan thereon,” Attorney Gener a l Jo ne s- Mo r ga n stated. Following a review of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Constitution of 1979, a proposed new Constitution sought to have the CCJ as the final court of appeal thus replacing the Privy Council. There were strong arguments presented by the Government-led Yes

Vote committee for the CCJ to be the final appellate court but the Vote No campaign led by the opposition New Democratic Party stoutly resisted such move. In a referendum in November 2009, the proposed new constitution was rejected by the majority of voters in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Security beef-up at Kingstown Magistrate Court Recent escape of prisoners from the Kingstown Magistrate Court have led authorities to beef-up security there with a view to prevent or minimize attempts. Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan addressing a Special Sitting of the Court to mark the

opening of the new law term on Tuesday said that prisoners were misbehaving and additional s e c u r it y me a s u r e s needed to be implemented. “We had a little development happening there. The prisoners were behaving themselves really

miserably when they went along to court. As a result, we are now going to install an automatic security door and panels. So, once you go down to the Kingstown Magistrates Court, the level of security has been increased there,” Attorney General Jones-

Morgan said. Between last year and earlier this year at least three prisoners escaped from the Kingstown Magistrate Court by defecating and using the faeces to smear the walls. Police officers did not intercept them.

Legal Profession Bill goes to parliament this month, AG says Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan has given assurance that the Legal Profession Bill, called for last year by retired Chief Justice Sir Hugh Rawlins, will be presented to Parliament for enactment later this month. The Attorney General gave the undertaking at the Special Sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court here on Tuesday. “My Lady, I must admit that last year I was quite ambitious and I had come here and I had indicated, I had given my word that I would do my very best to have the Legal Profession Bill ready,” Attorney General Jones-Morgan said. In a light tone she added, much to the amusement of other members of the legal profession, “I did say September? September isn’t finished yet so I still have some time.” On a more serious note, Attorney General JonesMorgan told Chief Justice Janice Pereira that she took note of what she said about the response by other member Sates and territories of the Eastern Caribbean to have the Legal Profession Bill enacted. She said her ministry will work to see if they can have the Bill taken to Parliament—a Bill she said was “really long overdue.”

Caribbean courts moving to collect fines, compensation speedily The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court is moving to implement a system which will allow for speedy collection of compensation and fines imposed by courts of law in the various member States and territories in the subregion. Newly-appointed Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Justice Janice Pereira made the announcement as she addressed the Special Sitting of the Court at the Court House in Kingstown on Tuesday to mark the opening of the new law term. Chief Justice Pereira said the Supreme Court was aware that in many of our jurisdictions the collections of fines and compensation was not as efficient as it should be. “As a result, the Court has begun to streamline the administrative procedures for the collection of fines and compensation using the available technology which will greatly assist in this initiative. It is intended that a more aggressive approach is taken in the collection of fines and compensations in order to ensure that court orders are complied with,” she said. Chief Justice Pereira said these initiatives will be implemented with very little expenditure as the necessary infrastructure is already in place.


Thursday September 20, 2012

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Special sitting of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to mark opening of new law year 2012-2013

User fees to be implemented for administration of justice Persons using the courts of law across the Eastern Caribbean will soon have to pay user fees for the services. Newly-appointed Chief Justice Janice Pereira made the announcement Tuesday as she addressed a Special Sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court. According to Chief Justice Pereira, recent developments in law reform have caused a shift in seeing the court as a service provider in the dispensation of justice and as a result courts in the region as well as internationally are reviewing the services provided and they are proposing fees. Chief Justice Pereira said that in recent times even the judicial committee of the London-based Privy Council, in a most recent communiqué to members, has proposed increases for filing fees and other applications. “While one may be inclined to think that this concept is revolutionary in the sense that user fees within the context that the administration of justice could in some sense be seen restricting access to justice, this approach is consistent with modern methodology in the administration of justice and bears a direct relationship with cost recovery in an everincreasing litigious society in a financially-challenged economic environment,” She said. Chief Justice Pereira said that all ser-

Justices of Appeal on the Bench at Tuesday’s special sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court vices which were traditionally provided free of charge by governments regionally and internationally are now attracting “small user fees” for varying purposes. She said a main objective was to sensitize persons as to the issue of appreciating such services if a fee, however minimal, is paid.. “I assure you that in approaching this

review, regard for maintaining and enhancing access to justice will remain at the forefront,” she said. Chief Justice Pereira said that a recent exercise has revealed significant disparities in the fees charged in the various member States and territories. She said the issues were discussed at the recent Legal Services Committee meeting of Attorneys

General and then at the OECS Heads of Government at its fifty-fifth intercessional meeting held here on June 11, 2012. She said that at the meeting the Authority gave support to the proposed user fee and mandated that the Court continue working on finalizing a detailed fee structure to be presented to the governments for implementation.

OECS Bar president proposes Bar/Bench committees in all Eastern Caribbean jurisdictions In a move to foster better relationships between members of the Bars and Judges in the Eastern Caribbean with a view to enhancing the delivery of justice, president of the OECS Bar Association Ruggles Fergusson is proposing that Bar/Bench committees be established in every member State

of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States. Addressing a special sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court held in Kingstown on Tuesday, Fergusson said such a committee was already in place in Grenada which has worked well and he was sure it

will work well in all the other jurisdictions because there were common problems and common objectives. “And the Bar/Bench committee affords the possibility for the Judges, representatives from the Bar, representatives from the magistracy, the AG’s chambers, the Registry all

come together on a monthly basis to discuss some of the common problems and issues facing the administration of justice,” he said. Fergusson said that in the case of Grenada the Association organized training for Registry staff.


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Thursday September 20, 2012

Special sitting of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to mark opening of new law year 2012-2013

Mediation package proposed for regional legal practitioners

OECS Bar Association president Ruggles Fergusson at special sitting of the court A call has been made for legal practitioners in the Eastern Caribbean to look at the idea of mediation in resolving legal matters. That call has come from president of the OECS Bar Association, Ruggles Fergusson. Speaking at the special sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court here on Tuesday, Fergusson said a mediation package developed in Grenada has worked well in the administration of justice. “Sometimes we wonder if there was no mediation in Grenada probably the system would have crashed a long time ago because

we have done several hundred matters in Grenada alone in mediation and close to two-thirds of these matters have been resolved. And we still struggle to get the unresolved matters heard,” Fergusson stated. Meanwhile, the OECS Bar Association president has made an appeal for lawyers in the sub-region to stop complaining about problems in their respective Associations and to be part of the solution. “Don’t just sit back and complain about how much your Bar Association is not doing. Step forward and play an active role; make suggestions, make a difference, encourage your colleagues to become part of the solutions. Local Bar Associations on the other hand must become more efficient, more proactive, more organized and more creative in energizing the membership base,” he said. Fergusson said it is often very easy to give up when faced with constant criticism, lack of support from members and lack of appreciation for the time and resources expended in advancing the work of the Bar Association especially in the context of one’s own busy schedules, the purely voluntary contributions and sacrifices and constant challenges of staying afloat in theses challenging economic times. Fergusson appealed to colleagues not to allow themselves to be daunted by the critics but instead try to get them onboard. “In fact, let them strengthen, not weaken, your own resolve to get the work done,” Fergusson said.

OECS Bar to examine welfare of regional judiciary The welfare of judicial officers serving in the Eastern Caribbean is a matter which will be given serious attention later this year by the OECS Bar Association. This was disclosed by president of the OECS Bar Association, Ruggles Fergusson at a special sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court on Tuesday to mark the opening of the new law term. Fergusson said that twenty-three years ago the founding fathers came together for the purpose of lobbying the Governments to improve the terms and conditions of the regional judiciary and that out of those initiatives the OECS Bar

was formed, expanding its mission to include the preservation and protection of human rights and the organization of the nine constituent Bars under the umbrella of a single regional body. “Today, twenty-three years later, we are again coming together to specifically look at the terms and conditions under which members of our judiciary serve — their accommodation, their security, their salaries, the administrative support, their pension benefits,” Fergusson said. The OECS Bar Association president said the issues will be addressed at a specificallyconvened meeting in Dominica in November.

Two new judges for Eastern Caribbean Court of Appeal

Justice Louise Blenman Acting Chief Justice Janice Pereira announced at Tuesday’s Special Sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court here that Justice Louise Blenman and Justice Mario Michel were appointed Justices of Appeal. This follows the retirement of Chief Justice Hugh Rawlins effective July 31, 2012, and Justice Ola-Mae Edwards in March 2012. Chief Justice Pereira said

Justice Mario Michel Justices Blenman and Michel have made “outstanding contributions” to the court. She congratulated them on their elevation and welcomed them to their new posts. “I hasten to add that I have no doubt that they will bring the same energy and drive, expended at the High Court level, to the Court of Appeal,” the newly-appointed Chief Justice Pereira told the gathering of legal practitioners.

Public legal education a must, says Fergusson President of the OECS Bar Association, Ruggles Fergusson has underscored the importance of public legal education in ensuring independence of the judiciary. Fergusson said over the years during special sittings to mark the opening of the new law years there has always been mention of the importance of continuing legal education. He recalled three year ago when the American Bar Association held its opening assembly in Chicago and a retired Justice of the Supreme Court in America in his keynote address said civic education was crucial to preserving an independent judiciary. He said the retired Justice pointed to a recent poll which showed two-thirds of

Americans in a population of several million could not name the three branches of Government— the Executive, the Legislature and the Judiciary. He said the retired Judge warned that the failure of many Americans to know how the government worked posed a serious threat. ‘’There is a danger to judicial independence,’ he noted, ‘when people have no understanding of how the judiciary fits into the constitutional scheme.’” Fergusson said that such reasoning can also apply to the people of the sub-region. He said public legal education ought to be one of the pillars of work for every Bar Association.


Thursday September 20, 2012

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Special sitting of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to mark opening of new law year 2012-2013

Chief Justice pleased with response to call for Legal Profession Act Acting Chief Justice of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, Justice Janice Pereira has expressed satisfaction with the response of Bar Associations in the sub-region to the call for the enactment of the Legal Profession Bill.

procedure for disciplinary proceed- Justice Pereira said. ings in the High Court. She said the document was at an advanced stage. “Part of the professionaliThe newly-appointed acting Chief Justice commended the St Lucia Bar zation of the Bar requires Association for its contribution and practitioners to be properly level of participation throughout the learned in the law in terms process. of ethics, practice traditions “The Court hopes that it can com- and culture.” mend the disciplinary rules to other member States and territories,” Chief

She said the legal profession, in both its branches, is an independent profession. She said it is self-regulating subject to the Court’s supervision in the public interest. She said the Court is the ultimate authority for admission as well as for discipline and statutory rules governing the profession must be approved by the Chief Justice. The importance of the legal profes-

Chief Justice Janice Pereira Addressing members of the judiciary, members of the Bars in the Eastern Caribbean and other persons involved in the field of law at a special sitting of the Court on Tuesday, Chief Justice Pereira said she was pleased to report that the Bar Associations have all heeded the call. She noted, however, that the move to have the proposed Bill enacted was still in the formative stages in Dominica, Montserrat and the territory of the Virgin Islands. Chief Justice Pereira said the legal profession was one of service which ought to be guided by high moral values and principles and that the ultimate responsibility for maintaining the standards, practices and procedures, which were the critical aspects of the rule of law, rests with the judiciary. She said that in a previous address then Chief Justice Sir Hugh Rawlins called for the enactment of the Legal Profession Act in member States and territories. Chief Justice Pereira said work was continuing in St Lucia on the preparation of disciplinary rules to supplement the Legal Profession Act. She said it will have detailed

Members of the legal profession at the Special Sitting of the Court in Kingstown on Tuesday sion to the rule of law and our social and economic development does not need any collaboration. “It is said that the practice of the law is a noble and learned profession. Accordingly, the public expects lawyers to be professionals of high integrity and competence who can represent them at affordable costs. Apart from his duties to his clients, the lawyer owes important duties both to the court and to the profession. These duties are imposed for the proper administration of justice and are enforceable by appropriate legal and disciplinary sanctions. They include

the duty not to mislead the court, the duty to avoid unnecessary expense and waste of the court’s time and to ensure that their clients are well served,” she stated. Chief Justice Pereira added “Part of the professionalization of the Bar requires practitioners to be properly learned in the law in terms of ethics, practice traditions and culture. I believe the time has come for the Bar Associations to encourage the reintroduction of mentoring for young lawyers. The current trend where young lawyers practice on their own without benefit of a senior to provide legal

guidance and the transfer of valuable customs and practices has contributed to a decline in professionalism at the Bar. The value of mentorship is significant and will assist in maintaining the standards and ethics of the profession.”

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Thursday September 20, 2012

Special sitting of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to mark opening of new law year 2012-2013

SVG Bar president: The uniting spirit seems to be dividing us

Dr Linton Lewis making his address on Tuesday The spirit that united the people of the Caribbean seems to be the spirit that is dividing them on some matters of regional importance. President of the St Vincent and the Grenadines Bar Association, Dr Linton Lewis advanced his observation as he addressed a special sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in Kingstown on Tuesday to mark the start of the new law year. Dr Lewis quoted the Book of Ezekiel, Chapter 36, verse 27; then he defined the spirit as a force that influences the minds of people. He said it is called spirit because it is not matter but of the mind and has to do with feelings. He said spirits can be loving, harmless or even dangerous, fleeting or powerful. He said the spirit within

someone is a person’s real self. “And why am I mentioning the issue of the spirit? Because, we in the Caribbean, we have survived the trans-Atlantic from Africa — about eleven million of us. It must have been that strong spirit that would have brought us across the Atlantic sea. While the Arawaks became extinct and the Caribs struggled for their survival and the Apaches were no more, those persons who made the journeys from Africa still exist. So it must have been that strong spirit,” Dr Lewis said. Dr Lewis said that the problem though was that even on plantations where different tribes were placed that spoke different languages to prevent them communicating in a way to

(Left to right) Justices Frederick Bruce-Lyle, Mario Michel and Davidson Baptiste rebel against the slave masters, “the spirit amongst them united them and made them stronger.” He said they were able to rebel and fight so they could emancipate themselves. “But that very spirit that united us seems to be this very spirit that is dividing us. And that is where we find the paradox,” the president of the SVG Bar Association said. He said one wonders about the talk of the spirit of slavery and the problem is that the Caribbean people have spent a hundred million dollars to establish the Caribbean Court of Justice and the spirit was there because the people decided they wanted that institution. “The spirit was there—the same spirit that united us. Yet, even having done that, we are still unable to get countries to participate and to use the Caribbean Court of Justice as the final court of appeal,” Dr Lewis stated.

He added, “The problem I see with that is that the struggle — we heard the Attorney General talking a while ago about the Attorney General’s Reference in St Lucia to look at the Constitution to see whether or not it is possible for us to have the Caribbean Court of Justice, without having to amend the Constitution or go for a referendum. .. That is very strange because the spirit, the very spirit that unites us, we seem to be unable to get that spirit to be a uniting force in establishing the Caribbean Court of Justice for all of the Caribbean region.” Dr Lewis said that an examination will have to be done to find out why is it that in the Caribbean jurisprudence there is so much difficulty in getting the Caribbean people to unite in order to be able trust their own. “It is an issue of trust and it has to do with the spirit of the

mind,” Dr Lewis said. Dr Lewis told newly-appointed acting Chief Justice Janice Pereira that suggestions she made at the sitting were welcomed and he hoped she would receive support from Caribbean colleagues to be able to achieve and acquire them and in the interest of justice. “Because we come her, Chief Justice, as a united force, but one wonders in actually getting things done whether we actually achieve that same unity. And, unless that unity is there you will never be able to achieve those noble goals and ideals,” he said. Dr Lewis gave the assurance that the local Bar Association will try to get the wider membership more integrated in the process of the administration of justice. Dr Lewis thanked the Chief Justice for her “obvious support” of the functions of the Bar Association.


Thursday September 20, 2012

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Special sitting of Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to mark opening of new law year 2012-2013

‘Witness protection’ Bill awaiting proclamation, says DPP

Director of Public Prosecutions Colin Williams Director of Public Prosecution, Colin Williams says that the Bill which provides for witnesses in serious offences to be interviewed electronically, which was passed and assented to some months ago, is now awaiting proclamation. The DPP, addressing the special sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in Kingstown on Tuesday said the equipment is already in place, having been provided by the British High Commission and the United States of America. “The Bill has been assented to—it is now an Act. I think all that we are awaiting is the proclamation. And I trust and

hope pretty soon that that proclamation of an Act that was passed a few months ago would soon be in place to provide for that mandatory interviewing of suspects in serious offences,” Williams stated. The DPP said that it “fits in nicely” with the particular development with the equipment already in place for witnesses to testify off site and legislation aimed at protecting witnesses. It’s broadly referred to now, or loosely referred to now, as ‘witness protection’ but encompasses another number of aspects of justice enhancement in St Vincent and the Grenadines,” he said.

Ten years we have been waiting for Legal Profession Act, says Sylvester Former president of both the St Vincent and the Grenadines Bar Association and the Eastern Caribbean Bar Association, Nicole Sylvester breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday, saying she was pleased to hear that a deadline has been set for the Legal Profession Bill to be taken before Parliament. “I am gratified that the honourable Attorney General has given a timeline of September 2012 for the implementation of the Legal Profession Act,” said Sylvester as she addressed the special sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in Kingstown on Tuesday. “At least we now have a deadline that we can hold you to madam Attorney General,” she added. “For ten years we have been waiting—and ten years is not too long because you have now set that deadline and for that we are deeply gratified,” Sylvester said. Attorney General Judith Jones-Morgan on Tuesday said the Legal Profession Bill will go before parliament this month.

Former president of SVG Bar Association Nicole Sylvester Retired Chief Justice Sir Hugh Rawlins heralded that call for the Legal Profession Act to be implemented. He did so at last year’s special sitting of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court to mark the opening of the new law term.


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Alleged murder weapon to be tested overseas The firearm suspected to have been used in the murder of twenty-four year old Evesham resident Uroy ‘Laybay’ Robinson is to be sent overseas for testing, according to police prosecutor, Inspector Glenford Gregg. The prosecutor told the Kingstown

Magistrate Court this when the accused twenty year old Walvaroo resident Kenny Lewis, appeared in court last week Monday as the Serious Offences Court was on a brief vacation.. The prosecutor told the Kingstown court he wanted to indicate early that a firearm allegedly involved in Rob-

inson’s murder has to be sent overseas for expert examination. He made it clear that he id not want “any problem” when the matter goes to the Serious Offences Court. Lewis is accused of shooting Robinson in the head at Walvaroo on September 2nd as he walked along the public road with two persons shortly after leaving a friend’s house. Robinson died at the scene, having received a single gunshot to the head. His killing occurred just over an hour after he was released from police custody. He was taken into custody 48 hours before for questioning on a report of robbery. Lewis was remanded in custody pending his appearance before the Serious Offences Court when it is expected that a date for the start of the preliminary inquiries will be set by Chief Magistrate Sonya Young. He was scheduled to appear before the Serious Offences Court yesterday. Lewis is also charged with possessing a Lama 9mm pistol without a license on September 6th at Arnos Vale and possessing 14 rounds of 9mm ammunition without license on the said date. Police said the serial number of the firearm was unknown. Twenty year old Kenny Lewis (in red jersey) escorted to court last week

Published by Ashford Peters Cane End, Marriaqua, St Vincent & the Grenadines W.I.

Uroy ‘Laybay’ Robinson

Pastor on bail for indecent assault A pastor was recently released on bail of $8,000.00 when he appeared before the Family Court on an indecent assault charge. It is alleged that the pastor touched a private part of a young lady who is related to his wife. The court has ordered him not to have any interaction with the young lady. He is to report to the Calliaqua Police Station on Mondays between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. until the matter is concluded. He is scheduled to reappear before the Family Court on October 3rd, 2012. The pastor previously appeared before the District 1 Magistrate Court in Kingstown a long time ago for beating his wife. The matter was, however, dismissed for want of prosecution.


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