The Government of The Bahamas will construct a new judicial complex at approximately $70million on land located in the East Hill Street area, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs the Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson said recently.
The construction of the judicial complex, and the implementation of an integrated justice system to connect the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs, the Police, Her Majesty’s Prison and the Supreme Court and a pilot project for the secure digital recording and storage of all judicial proceedings to “speed up” the availability of transcripts in selected proceedings, among other changes, are part of the Government’s overall plan to improve the efficiency of the judicial system.
The complex, which will house the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeal and the Industrial Tribunal, will be constructed on land extending from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Building, East Hill Street, to the former St. John’s College campus, and will include the land that serves as the existing parking lot at the rear of the Post Office Building.
Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said the plans originally called for the construction of the complex at the Royal Victoria Gardens. She said that EDAW, in its town planning exercises, however, recommended that Victoria Gardens would be better suited for the location of a new Parliament.
“Architects at the Ministry of Works will consult with the judiciary in the event some redesign of the plans is necessary to accommodate the complex at the new site,” Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said.
The Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs said that pending the completion of the complex, the Industrial Tribunal will be relocated to the Pride Rock Building, located on East Street North. Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said the decision was made following consultation with the president of the Tribunal.
Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said it has also been agreed that a number of Magistrates Courts be relocated to the Pride Rock Building and that the space at the vacated Magistrates Courts be used to establish a full-time Traffic Court.
“We also hope within the first quarter of 2007 to relocate the Magistrate’s Court at Eight Mile Rock,” Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said. “Also in 2007, it is intended to expand the facilities of the Magistrate’s Courts in Abaco and Exuma. These steps are necessary given the existing and anticipated expansion of population in those areas.”
Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said officials at the Office of the Attorney General and Ministry of Legal Affairs are “considering a proposal” for a pilot project that will evaluate the feasibility of facilitating the secure digital recording and storage of all judicial proceedings and to provide for the immediate availability of transcripts in selected proceedings.
She said the project was borne out of a meeting between officials of the Merrill Corporation, Court Reporters, the Courts (including Freeport) and The Bar, and is another thrust to increase efficiency through the use of technology.
“The construction of the state-of-the-art judicial complex, combined with the system of integrated justice and its processes, together with the immediate availability of transcripts, are all designed to result in more efficient communication, work flow and utilization of time for all charged with the responsibility of administration of justice,” Mrs. Maynard-Gibson said.
“We will continue to work in partnership with the judiciary to ensure that justice is done and that every citizen may exercise his or her constitutional right to have his or her matter heard before the courts in a timely manner,” Mrs. Maynard-Gibson added.