IN RESPONSE to concerns raised by judges and members of the opposition over the government's move to significantly increase the judiciary, and suggestions that existing problems should be addressed first, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi said citizens simply cannot wait until everything is perfect before making arrangements to ensure the judiciary moves at a quicker pace.
Al-Rawi dismissed question marks over the selection process, which included concerns that members of the Judicial and Legal Services Commission were themselves under probe, and that the money used for new judges could be used to treat with existing matters. In a conversation with Newsday, Al-Rawi said the streamlining of the judicial system holds higher priority.
"It is now well known that we have over 29,000 indictable matters that are still in arrears. We have demonstrated that the magistrate court has over 130,000 matters in arrears. There has been a complaint that the criminal justice system is going nowhere and people are languishing in jails without trial.
Victims of crime are suffering repeated abuse because their trials take ten to 17 years to come out of the courts. The gap between charge and conviction is as large as 20 years in the criminal system."
How long will that take, three or four years? Are we to wait to fix the Judicial and Legal Services Commission as a first priority? Do the citizens of this country want to wait six years or ten years to fix the JLSC and appoint no new judges? Do the 29,000 cases that are in arrears and the billions of dollars that we spent to promote that system must that await that process?
"What is one of the direct consequences of quickening the pace of the justice system: is it not that we will get convictions and acquittals faster? Who in our country would not like to know that if you do the crime you do the time?
"In our country if you do the crime you wait forever. You never get to court. You wait over 20 years. You wait for the person to die or for the witness to be intimidated or for the evidence to go missing."