St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Callers to WINN FM’s Voices programme have been expressing concern that the police tend to investigate cases with the intention of conviction rather than in an unbiased manner that focuses on gathering evidence.
“A lot of our people, the majority of our people, I don’t know if it is a vast majority or what, still don’t trust the judicial system in these territories at all, and I blame those people too you know, who gave them because the way some policemen and women, let me say the police, some police go and dispense ‘justice’ in investigation.”
They were commenting on Monday’s opening of a second High Court Chamber at the Sir Lee More Judicial and Legal Complex and the court’s likely impact on the existing backlog of cases.
Some callers also felt that sentences imposed on those convicted should be consistent and proportional to the crime committed.
That’s thought to be one way of lowering the chances for appeal with previously resolved cases.
“You have people, in there, in jail, for foolishness. Some of them, I would call it foolishness. But, you see, the law is the law, and in the face of the law, that is what you would call, disrespect. Now if a man enters a place and steals a toffee, yes, he stole it, and stealing is wrong, but the reason why he stole the toffee is because he is hungry. So you take that into consideration and say, well he was hungry, so you tell him, don’t do it again, so if you are hungry, go beg someone, do not steal, because stealing is against the law."
Callers also made a case for greater attention to due diligence with eyewitness testimonies and information on good character direction provided to jurors.
Concerns were raised too about the ability of judges to rule on evidence presented in a case and disregard previous informal knowledge.
“Some of these judges, because you are Mr. So and So who lives in Frigate Bay, and another person’s brother and sister are from MacKnight, Dieppe Bay, St. Paul’s – who are just barely making it financially - they dish out the harshest punishment on people who do not have any financial resources and no representation whatsoever, and that is not right.”
There was consensus that with the addition of the second high court and the judicial system working effectively, the country will see a decrease in the backlog of cases.