BY JENNIFER KUSAPA
CHIEF Justice Sir Albert Palmer has expressed his disappointment over zero allocation for Judiciary’s development budget for this year.
He expressed his disappointment at the opening of the 2020 legal year yesterday.
Sir Albert said that their bid of SBD$2,411,800.00 for their development budget has not been prioritized by the government.
He raised his disappointment with a question “How can you expect us to cope and keep up with the many challenges and demands that is being placed on the Judiciary if you are not prepared to support us in expanding services to meet that demand head on?
“If we had asked for $10 million or $5 million then I would not have been surprised if it was reduced to say $3 million, but we were only asking for $2.4 million.
“I do not know how we are going to meet the priority infrastructure needs in our Corporate and Annual Work plans.
“If you thought we were given $1million you can be forgiven, for what we were allocated came as a shocker, $0.00, ZERO $. At least last year, we had $1million allocated, not this year”, Sir Albert said.
He said their bid is to enable them to draw up a concept design plans for new court buildings and offices in Honiara and in the provinces.
He said that the Judiciary has faced many challenges that court infrastructure needs will continue to feature prominently in any activities, for this is the face of justice in the community.
There are five courts in the country and each of these courts is in need of adequate court houses, office space etc. to conduct court sittings.
The Court of Appeal for instance is in need of a separate court building with judges’ chambers and facilities for court staff to enable them to conduct hearings without interference or disturbance.
If a resident President or Justice of Appeal is to be appointed in due course, adequate facilities will need to be obtained to cater for the increasing demand for appeals to the Court of Appeal.
Sir Albert said 41 years ago apart from the Magistrates’ Court building at Auki, the judiciary are still using court premises constructed during pre-colonial days.
“Mind you, Auki Court house was built by RAMSI.
“I do not know if you noticed for instance when coming into this court building if you took the time to read the bronze plaque at the entrance and noted the year in which that foundational plaque was laid; 1964, which will make this building some 56 years old.
“Some of you were not even born yet when this building was constructed. Apart from its historic and cultural value, this building is a very important building, in the dispensation of justice to the country since we took it over.
“It is now in need for repair and refurbishment. If you look up, you will notice that there is some crack on the ceiling which will need to be investigated and repaired.
“But this is only the High Court, and we are now running short of space not only for the courts but for our support staff as well”, Sir Albert said.
He also revealed that the Magistrates’ Court in Honiara can no longer support the number of Magistrates that are being appointed to dispense adequate justice for the population in Honiara.
He said they are now forced to share chambers, court rooms and space to carry out their duties.
“I cannot stress enough the urgency of the situation. This is unacceptable”, Sir Albert said.