More for judges

Salaries to go up; $170 million spent to buy 21 new vehicles

Senior staff reporter

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

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THE Government has moved to improve remuneration packages for judges, including new vehicles, but they may have to wait a while longer to receive the increased salaries.In his contribution to the 2017/18 Sectoral Debate in the House of Representatives yesterday, Justice Minister Delroy Chuck said $170 million had been spent on 21 new vehicles for judges “to ensure our judges have working vehicles”. He said when new judges are appointed they would also be given the vehicles to which they are entitled, explaining that some judges were appointed without being assigned vehicles and others had been in need of new ones.

The minister said, too, that Cabinet has approved recommendations from a recently tabled report done by the Independent Commission for the Judiciary that examined the remuneration for judges.

“Cabinet recognises the importance of the judges that they should be paid a good salary, but within the constraints of an IMF (International Monetary Fund) agreement we just can't give the judges what they are really worth. But we are doing our best to ensure that they get what is possible,” he stated.

The members of the commission have also been reappointed to look into the salaries for other posts in the judiciary. He stressed that the Government continues to roll out resources to strengthen the justice system, which he argued was beset by years of neglect. Thirty-six judicial clerks were engaged last year as part of these efforts, he noted.

At the same time, the minister said steps are being taken to strengthen the prosecutorial arm of the justice system by employing 17 new members of staff to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) this fiscal year. This will include nine attorneys-at-law.

“The unification of the prosecutorial service is being actively pursued and we expect legislation to come to Parliament soon. At the moment, the DPP is only in charge of those in the office. The vision is that you should have a prosecutorial service (so that) the 70 or more clerks of the court should come within the jurisdiction of the DPP to be able to interact with the DPP, to be trained by the DPP so that when they are in the parishes prosecuting they really have the ability to stand up to senior lawyers,” he explained.

There are also plans to have the building on King Street in downtown Kingston, which is now occupied by the Accountant General's Department, vacated soon in order to acquire that space for the expansion of the Court of Appeal and the office space of the DPP in order to accommodate more prosecutors.




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