Basseterre, St. Kitts, July 20, 2016 (SKNIS): A new Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) is expected to be appointed in St. Kitts and Nevis soon, as the Government pushes forward reforms to improve the criminal justice system.
“It is very, very important that we establish a strong criminal justice system,” Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs and Justice, Honourable Vincent Byron Jr. said at a recent town hall meeting in Molineux. “The courts, the rule of law is what we have to believe in in this country and so we need to have a strong complement of prosecutors who will deal with the criminals when they come before them, who will work with the police to ensure that they do the proper investigations … so that when we carry them before the court they will be convicted and put away and so reduce the crime within this country.”
Attorney General Byron thanked Acting DPP Esan Granderson, who was appointed in January 2016, as well as Senior Queen’s Counsel Dane Hamilton of Antigua and Barbuda for moving the wheels of justice forward. The Attorney General explained that the Government inherited a backlog of cases which bogged down the administration of justice. “This time last year at the end of the May Criminal Assizes, we had a very poor showing in terms of how we were performing,” he said, referencing the number of cases tried in May, June and July in 2015. “We only did four cases last year. This year, we were able to complete 22.”
Granderson’s acting stint as DPP is expected to end next month and the announcement of a permanent replacement is expected shortly. Applicants were recently interviewed by a panel made up of Cabinet Secretary Josephine Huggins, Chief Personnel Officer of the Human Resource Management Department Torfrida Rochester, Solicitor General Simone Bullen-Thompson, and Dane Hamilton. “The interviews went very well and so shortly we will be making a selection [of] someone who will perform the duties of the Director of Public Prosecutions,” AG Byron said.
Minister Byron stated that the DPP is the chief prosecutor and is tasked with reviewing criminal reports submitted by law enforcement and advising if charges should be filed with the court to prosecute the alleged perpetrators. Court cases are typically tried by the DPP or other prosecutors in the office.
In November 2015, Government created a Criminal Justice Strategic Board (CJSB), chaired by the Attorney General. The board is made up of the various justice related departments and agencies and its mandate is to improve the dispensation of justice.