Nassau, Bahamas – Strengthening the criminal justice system is the focus of an unprecedented effort led by the Office of the Attorney General as it aims to take a renewed look at the judicial challenges confronting the Bahamian people. Key criminal justice system stakeholders will work alongside a highly skilled team to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of The Bahamas’ justice system.
The Hon. Dame Linda Dobbs DBE, the United Kingdom’s first person of color appointed to the high courts, along with His Honour Judge Roger Chapple, Mr. Ben Yallop, Senior Listing Officer and Mr. Stuart Hill, justice system administrator, will work with prosecutors, the judiciary, defence counsel and the court reporting unit to assess challenges, provide training and strengthen internal communication during a three week official mission in The Bahamas
In her 2015 Opening of the Legal Year address, the Attorney-General, the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, highlighted the obstacles that have slowed the criminal justice system over the past two decades. Absent witnesses, delays in transcripts, scheduling conflicts, difficulty in empanelling jurors and a lack of trial preparation have all contributed to a substantial backlog of criminal cases.
“We have to be more transparent and more fully accountable about the challenges we are facing; that is what the Bahamian people deserve and expect. While these challenges are our own, they are not unique to The Bahamas and this visiting team allows us to access the expertise of those who’ve helped others overcome similar obstacles,” said the Attorney-General.
The Hon. Dame Linda Dobbs has more than 10 years of international experience in training the British, American, African and Caribbean judiciaries in efficient and effective case management. His Hon. Judge Chapple, UK Senior Circuit Court Judge, will also assist with case management, while Mr. Ben Yallop will work to implement recommendations to improve court reporting functions. Jury summonsing has consistently been an issue for criminal justice courts and Mr. Stuart Hill will advise on jury administration and the implementation of necessary reforms.
“I am excited about the team we have been able to pull together,” remarked the Attorney-General. “Their work will support the progress we’ve already made.”
The work of this team is made possible by an Inter-American Development Bank grant to support the Government of The Bahamas in tackling the challenge of the lengthy turnaround times of criminal cases.
“Old cases are being thoroughly reviewed and prepared. Communication, cooperation and collaboration between the Office of the Attorney General and stakeholders has led to excellent outcomes -utilizing existing resources,” said the Attorney-General.
The Attorney-General stressed, however, that no matter what changes are made to the justice system, things will not improve without the full cooperation of the Bahamian public.
“Bahamians do not want business as usual. They want change and they want it now. The good news is that everyone working together, including the Bahamian public, guided by the expertise of this team will transform the system thereby truly enabling Swift Justice.”