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Office of Director of Public Prosecution should be Free from Political Interference

His Lordship, Justice Albert Redhead

The Royal Montserrat Police Service and the Montserrat Fire Rescue Service Community week began with an eagerly anticipated lecture which took place on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at the St. Patricks Cooperative Credit Union Hall in Brades. His Lordship, Justice Albert Redhead delivered the lecture featuring on the topic, “How does the Constitution Affect Criminal Justice”

His Lordship, retired appeal court judge Justice Redhead told a packed audience that the Constitution is the highest legal authority in Montserrat. “I firmly believe that an independent Constitution should always seek to divorce public prosecution from any influence, whether it be political or otherwise. Without this the role of law becomes meaningless. He added that democracy cannot progress without a strict adherence to the role of law.“ It is very important that we understand that the maintenance of law

left: Deputy Premier Hon. Charles Kirnon; Premier Reuben Meade and wife Rev. Dr. Joan Meade

He made reference to section 46 -2 of the Constitution of Montserrat which defined the functions of the Director of Public Prosecution. “The Director of Public Prosecutions shall have power, in any case in which he or she considers it desirable to do so” Justice Albert Redhead said, “The duty of the director of public Prosecution is vitally important in any emerging or democratic society.” He stressed that the holder of this office needs to be firm and protected.

But he expressed reservations on Section 46(7) of the Constitution which states: “During any period when the office of Director of Public Prosecutions is vacant, the Attorney General (AG) shall perform the functions of that office.”

On this section of the Constitution, the Judge said: “To have the AG preforming the function of the office of the Director of Public Prosecution seems inappropriate. The AG sits in Cabinet and may be subject to political pressures from his or her colleagues to prosecute an opponent of government.”

His Lordship, Justice Albert Redhead urged the police officers to be good examples to the society. He warned senior officer about abusing the power. “…respect your police do not use your position to bring unwarranted pressures on your junior especially the female officer.” This remark triggered strong supportive reaction from the audience.

His Lordship suggested that a complaint commission be set up within the police force so that officers who are dissatisfied with any action taken against them, disciplinary or otherwise should be investigated within the police force.” He reminded the officers about their theme “To Protect with Courage, To Service with Compassion” and urged them to be faithful in their service.

Premier Reuben Meade made a contribution in noting the provisions of the Constitution in as far as it protects the rights of the people noting especially the ability to file complaints against the public service to a Complaints Commission. He responded to what the Judge noted about the AG “continuing for the DPP in his absence”, and said that the need for a Deputy Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) would be addressed, and also that the office of the DPP would no longer be located in the Attorney General office when things are sorted out.

Audience at Police & Fire Lecture 2011

As a final comment still on the matter of the DPP, and following a question/comment from one of the several attorneys who spoke during the question period, with a call on the Premier to say when a deputy would be installed, the Judge noted his concern about section 85(5) that stated: “…Director of Public Prosecutions may be removed from office only for inability to discharge the functions of his or her office (whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause) or for misbehaviour, and with the prior approval of a Secretary of State.” This he said did not give the DPP in Montserrat the same safeguard as DPPs in other territories.

Chairperson Mr. Oris Sullivan, thanked His Lordship Justice Albert Redhead for an inspiring lecture, noting that the admonition to the police was extremely timely. The evening’s event ended following a vote of thanks.

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A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

His Lordship, Justice Albert Redhead

The Royal Montserrat Police Service and the Montserrat Fire Rescue Service Community week began with an eagerly anticipated lecture which took place on Thursday, October 27, 2011 at the St. Patricks Cooperative Credit Union Hall in Brades. His Lordship, Justice Albert Redhead delivered the lecture featuring on the topic, “How does the Constitution Affect Criminal Justice”

His Lordship, retired appeal court judge Justice Redhead told a packed audience that the Constitution is the highest legal authority in Montserrat. “I firmly believe that an independent Constitution should always seek to divorce public prosecution from any influence, whether it be political or otherwise. Without this the role of law becomes meaningless. He added that democracy cannot progress without a strict adherence to the role of law.“ It is very important that we understand that the maintenance of law

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left: Deputy Premier Hon. Charles Kirnon; Premier Reuben Meade and wife Rev. Dr. Joan Meade

He made reference to section 46 -2 of the Constitution of Montserrat which defined the functions of the Director of Public Prosecution. “The Director of Public Prosecutions shall have power, in any case in which he or she considers it desirable to do so” Justice Albert Redhead said, “The duty of the director of public Prosecution is vitally important in any emerging or democratic society.” He stressed that the holder of this office needs to be firm and protected.

But he expressed reservations on Section 46(7) of the Constitution which states: “During any period when the office of Director of Public Prosecutions is vacant, the Attorney General (AG) shall perform the functions of that office.”

On this section of the Constitution, the Judge said: “To have the AG preforming the function of the office of the Director of Public Prosecution seems inappropriate. The AG sits in Cabinet and may be subject to political pressures from his or her colleagues to prosecute an opponent of government.”

His Lordship, Justice Albert Redhead urged the police officers to be good examples to the society. He warned senior officer about abusing the power. “…respect your police do not use your position to bring unwarranted pressures on your junior especially the female officer.” This remark triggered strong supportive reaction from the audience.

His Lordship suggested that a complaint commission be set up within the police force so that officers who are dissatisfied with any action taken against them, disciplinary or otherwise should be investigated within the police force.” He reminded the officers about their theme “To Protect with Courage, To Service with Compassion” and urged them to be faithful in their service.

Premier Reuben Meade made a contribution in noting the provisions of the Constitution in as far as it protects the rights of the people noting especially the ability to file complaints against the public service to a Complaints Commission. He responded to what the Judge noted about the AG “continuing for the DPP in his absence”, and said that the need for a Deputy Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) would be addressed, and also that the office of the DPP would no longer be located in the Attorney General office when things are sorted out.

Audience at Police & Fire Lecture 2011

As a final comment still on the matter of the DPP, and following a question/comment from one of the several attorneys who spoke during the question period, with a call on the Premier to say when a deputy would be installed, the Judge noted his concern about section 85(5) that stated: “…Director of Public Prosecutions may be removed from office only for inability to discharge the functions of his or her office (whether arising from infirmity of body or mind or any other cause) or for misbehaviour, and with the prior approval of a Secretary of State.” This he said did not give the DPP in Montserrat the same safeguard as DPPs in other territories.

Chairperson Mr. Oris Sullivan, thanked His Lordship Justice Albert Redhead for an inspiring lecture, noting that the admonition to the police was extremely timely. The evening’s event ended following a vote of thanks.