by Curlan Campbell, NOW Grenada
- Poor facility for court sitting described as an impediment to justice in Grenada
- CAIPO building evacuated due to rat and mould infestation
The need for Grenada to have its own Halls of Justice is being put at the forefront of the government’s agenda. This follows years of dialogue after the idea was first introduced 9 years ago.
In 2010 then NDC government announced to the public that a 50,000-square-foot Halls of Justice building would be constructed on the site that once housed the official residence of the Governor General.
The Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), provided financing for the project which did not materialise. The High Court operated out of several buildings until the Cable and Wireless/LIME building on the Carenage was selected to house the court. Earlier this year that building had to be vacated due to complaints of air quality which was said to have caused court staff to become ill. It was alleged this might have been as a result of radiation being emitted from a cell tower located nearby. A radiation poisoning claim was later refuted by the owners of the building.
In the meantime, High Court No. 1 was moved to the Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office (CAIPO) building located at Upper Lucas Street/Mt Wheldale Gap. Like the previous temporary location, the building had to be evacuated, this time due to rat and mould infestation.
The Grenada Bar Association (GBA) headed by Attorney-at-Law Lisa Taylor, called on government and the Minister for Legal Affairs Honourable Kindra Mathurine-Stewart to immediately address the problem.
The minister indicated that the problem at the CAIPO building is currently being rectified but admitted that this situation is posing quite a challenge for government. “Government continues to hold decisions with the Grenada Bar Association on the matter relating to the court facility. Again, we do have some challenges there which existed for quite a while now. Both buildings, that is the CAIPO building and the original court No 1 building still cannot be accessed at this time because we still have some outstanding issues there, but again I am very confident that probably in the next week or two, those buildings will be able to be fully utilised for court services.”
Minster Mathurine-Stewart added that a medium-term solution is being sought after but opted not to comment on it at this time.
When the problem of mould and rat infestation of the CAIPO building arose, the GBA suggested two possible buildings — the RBTT building on Gore and Halifax Street and the Grenada Trade Centre — that could be used to house the court. The minister said these suggestions are currently being looked into but added that government has now advanced negotiations to have Grenada’s Halls of Justice constructed in the not too distant future.
She said government appointed a subcommittee headed by Honourable Peter David would be looking at this matter. “Cabinet appointed a subcommittee to look at the plans and diagrams, funding and the whole discussion surrounding the construction of our Halls of justice. I am a part of that committee. Honourable Peter David is also a part along with other members of the bar, and very soon we should hear some more with regard to that development.”
The Halls of Justice building will consolidate the administrative infrastructure of the local legal system, including the high court and the registrar’s office. It is as part of the wider OECS Court initiative.
During the opening of the 2018 law year, Senior High Court Judge Madam Justice Paula Gilford clamoured for this to become a reality to solve what she described as an impediment to justice in Grenada due to the poor facility made available for court sitting.