BASSETERRE, St. Kitts - DESPITE the adverse effects of the Coronavirus, the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Valston Graham, is pleased with the level of cases disposed of in 2020.
The courts are operating under COVID-19 Protocols and have been forced to curtail the way cases are handled with some being conducted using the Zoom platforms.
Describing last year as a very challenging one, DPP Graham explained to SKNVibes News that both High Courts in St. Kitts and Nevis have not resumed full operations.
“Changes had to be made to the physical construct of the courtrooms to ensure that it complied with the regulations,” he said.
Despite the restrictions and the challenges with jury trials, especially those on St. Kitts, "we were able to complete a significant number of matters”, the DPP revealed.
“In fact, we were the leading jurisdiction in the entire OECS to accomplish matters in the High Court last year,” Graham disclosed. “ We were a far distance away from most. So, in as much as it was a challenging period, I am satisfied with the result that we received last year.”
In an invited comment to review the impact of COVID-19 on the role of his office and the level of cases disposed of, the DPP said that the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the fact that there needs to be a more cognisant approach to how courtrooms are constructed in the Federation.
That, he noted, is one of the lessons the pandemic has taught the judiciary, pointing out that it has also improved the courts’p response and its performance.
He noted that in the past, the use of the virtual platforms to hear matters frowned upon.
“...In the past, you might have found that there was a reluctance by some members of the judiciary and some lawyers to deal with matters via video links. Now virtual cases are being dealt with and it has almost become the way of life,” the DPP explained.
Moreover, he reiterated that it has enhanced the courts’ technical ability to be able to dispose of matters easily.