Annual Judicial Conference 2018
The Judicial Education Institute (JEI) of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court (ECSC) hosted its signature event the Annual Judicial Conference from July 23 – 27, 2018 in St. Lucia at the Coco Palm Resort & Spa.
This year the conference focused on the recently developed Sentencing Guidelines which will be implemented in September of 2018 and Training on Intellectual Property facilitated by WIPO. Part of the implementation of the Sentencing Guidelines included training for Magistrates on the new guidelines since they will be impacted the first. The training for Magistrates was over a two day period at the Coco Palm Resort and Spa from July 26 – 27, 2018.
Sentencing Guidelines are principles which set out the way for Judges and Magistrates to consider the seriousness of a particular offence, and to determine on the appropriate sentence in each case. Five Sentencing Guidelines were developed under a Sentencing Guidelines Project funded by the US Embassy. These included Murder, Drugs, Theft, Robbery and Sexual Offences.
This training for judicial officers was critical because it is important that the sentence imposed on an offender reflects the nature of the crime that they have committed, the personal circumstances of the offender, and is proportionate to the seriousness of the offence.
It is also necessary to ensure that the courts are consistent in their approach to sentencing for particular offences. This training also assisted in ensuring the sentencing process becomes more transparent, as victims, the accused, lawyers, and the public can properly understand how a particular sentence has been reached.
It is also important to note that Sentencing Guidelines provide guidance only and hence they do not compel the court to impose a particular sentence, or specify the precise length of a sentence. The court is permitted to depart from the Sentencing Guidelines in an appropriate and justifiable case. Sentencing Guidelines therefore assist in maintaining the independence of the judiciary, and do not take away the discretion of the sentencing tribunal.
The training for Judges was over a five day period and the training for Magistrates over a period of two days. The training for judges commenced with an opening ceremony on Monday July 23rd, 2018. Present at the opening ceremony was His Excellency the Governor General, Sir Emmanuel Neville Cenac and Lady Cenac, the Hon. Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet who made opening remarks and spoke to the importance of sentencing guidelines. Hon. Gertel Thom, Chair of JEI and Justice of Appeal, welcomed the participants and thanked the Prime Minister for his continuous support to the Court.
The Hon. Chief Justice, Dame Janice Pereira gave a background to the Sentencing Guidelines Project and the Committee behind the development of the guidelines and thanked Ms. Sirah Abraham from the International Narcotics Section of the US Embassy who was integral in this project from inception and who committed to the development of the sentencing guidelines and the financial support from the US Embassy from beginning to end. Chief Justice thanked the SAC for tremendous effort in developing these guidelines.
Chief Justice also thanked the World Intellectual Property (WIPO) for its support in sensitizing the judges in the area of intellectual property. Chief Justice ended by thanking the donors especially the, US Embassy, British Embassy and the WIPO without whom the Annual Judicial Conference would not be the success it was.