Wed | Mar 21, 2018

Letter of the Day | Dog nyam yuh supper in courts

Published:Friday | June 17, 2016 | 12:00 AM


The justice minister's recently expressed concern relative to the length of time it takes the court to dispose of cases is more than justified. No doubt each case has to be dealt with on its own facts and circumstances, but this should be based on clear policy guidelines. That way we ensure that particular cases are not singled out because they grab public attention or are based on some other expediency.

I recently had an appeal, which was only disposed of after 24 years. In giving his decision, the then president of the Court of Appeal noted that this was unacceptable, and in his words, "the court did not expect a repetition".

But delays in the court system are not the only concern that citizens have in relation to the justice system. There are extended delays in paying out money to citizens who have suffered loss and injury at the hands of government departments and public officers. This is so even when the court has ruled that citizens' rights have been breached and that they must be compensated.

It is no secret that the Government is just now making payments on such court orders made back in 2014. That means that if the court makes an order today, 'dog nyam yuh supper' - and your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, too, as from a most optimistic viewpoint, you are not likely to be paid for the next two to three years. Often, this is after the case has worked its way through the court system for three to four years.

This is a sad and unsatisfactory state of affairs. I remember the fuss that was made when there was a delay by the Barbados government in paying out money in the Shanique Myrie case. All sectors weighed in in condemning the Barbadian government. But what has happened to the rule that charity begins at home?

I certainly hope that the minister will find it possible to give this justice issue priority attention. And fix it.