Hall of Justice, Port of Spain.

The delivery of justice in this country is unacceptably slow, says Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley.

And the Prime Minister says he knows he will be criticised for his remarks on the situation, but “I’m simply addressing the state of affairs in Trinidad and Tobago and there’s no sacred cow in this country.”

Rowley aired his dissatisfaction with the pace of justice delivery when he spoke at Tuesday night’s “Conversations with the Prime Minister” event.

His views followed his reply to a question on the implementation of the death penalty. He said T&T is further away from the death penalty now than it ever was.

Citing certain issues affecting its implementation, Rowley said he hadn’t even touched on the judicial system “which for one reason or the other…” he before trailing off, “We will have to set aside a night for that …”

He then said the delivery of justice in this country is unacceptably slow.

Rowley added, “I have been Prime Minister of this country for seven years and I have given the judiciary priority – hundreds of millions of dollars in resources.”

He also noted that the Waterfront Complex, which was formerly occupied by the Parliament, was made available to the judiciary to have 75 additional courts.

“We’ve increased the number of masters and judges, we removed from the judicial system a hundred and something thousand motorcar cases, we’re not going before judges and magistrates because a tail light was bad or somebody bounce your fender; we’re giving people points now for breaking major roads – hundreds of thousands of cases out of the system – we’ve done all of that and many more!”

Rowley said he will ask Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to report to the country on what Government has done. But he said he could say as a citizen that he could not see any acceleration in the delivery of justice in T&T.

He said the Cabinet had done everything they could have done to facilitate it, “so there must be something, somewhere else”.

Rowley added, “If people owe you money now, you know what they tell you? ‘Take me to court nah’.”

He said the delay in the system – whatever the case or reason for such delay – is the best friend of a person who has to answer a charge.

Noting delayed matters, including one in the preliminary inquiry stage for almost 20 years, Rowley said this didn’t mean the Cabinet hadn’t done what it could do.

“It simply means there’s something more in the mortar than the pestle. Delay in justice in T&T is hurting us in more ways than one and we have to find a way to remove that from the system. It’s not fair to the persons in Remand Yard to be lying down there for how many years waiting for a day in court.”

While Rowley said he expected to be criticised for his comments, he said, “I’m simply addressing the state of affairs in Trinidad and Tobago and there’s no sacred cow in this country.

“The same way others in a separation of power could criticise the Government, I am taking issue with this situation where the Government has done everything we think we could have done in the resources available to us – and as a citizen, I’m simply saying I’m not seeing the benefits of what we have been investing in this system – and I say no more tonight.”

On the death penalty, Rowley said T&T was further away from this because it’s not a matter for the Government. He said Government had done what it can do but the higher court of appeal is the Privy Council and “… these English people do not support the existence of the death penalty.”

“Therefore, when appeal is made to them, all it does is cost millions of dollars …. and the Privy Council puts obstacles in our way,” he added.

He noted that organisations to which appeals also have to be made – such as an Inter-American body – are opposed to the death penalty and chastises this country for having this penalty.