**Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, M.P.
The Attorney General made her contribution to the 2006 National Budget yesterday in the House of Assembly.
She focused for the most part on matters relating to “Swift Justice”, described as the “most significant” initiative in addressing the issues of law and order — a model she says that can be implemented throughout the region. The Swift Justice initiative provides a keener focus to the work of the criminal prosecutions side of the Office of the Attorney General, with an integral component of the programme being the review of systems currently in place. This involves collaboration between the institutions and agencies within the criminal justice system, and also with victims and their families. This integrated approach, says the Attorney General, is designed to strengthen transparency and accountability.
Ongoing training for Public Prosecutors will incorporate sessions relating to anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism activity in recognition of evolving global standards and requirements.
Minister Allyson Maynard-Gibson spoke to a number of other key matters in the delivery of swift justice, including Community Courts and the Appointment of Lay Magistrates; Court Facilities, Security and Reporters; and the Bahamas Integrated Justice Information System (BIJIS)
During her contribution to the Debate, Minister Maynard-Gibson also reported that the 2006-2007 Budget includes the construction of a new facility for The Eugene Dupuch Law School.
Other matters presented:
**Pre-Eminent Law Chambers**
The Attorney General says it is her goal to see the OAG become the pre-eminent law chambers, with all legal officers to be as good as or better than those in the large law chambers in the country. This will be facilitated by the appointment of the Judicial Review Committee, intended to improve the terms and conditions of service of legal officers.
Additionally, she says, the OAG has set out to reform the minds, the culture and thinking of not only the legal officers to the notion of pre-eminence but also the entire staff. To this end a series of workshops and seminars is in progress, *”designed and focused on the business of improving and changing the current culture to one that is all about achieving excellence and reaching a state of pre-eminence.”*
Immediate plans also involve the enhancement of research capabilities and a new Policy on Pupilage within the OAG.
**Aggressive Legislative Agenda and Law Reform**
Included in this agenda is Justice Protection Legislation, a tangible expression, says the AG, of the Government’s efforts to be proactive in its determination to combat crime in all its forms and guises.
Also expected to be laid before Parliament in short order are bills relating to a review of the criminal justice system; commercial legislation; Lay Magistrates; a Competition Bill, Amendments to the Inheritance Act, Jurors Act, and to laws relating to Bankruptcy; and a law to enable the implementation of national health insurance. Foreshadowed as well is legislation to establish the Office of Ombudsman, to facilitate independent investigations into complaints about unfair or improper actions or poor service by government agencies.
**Legal Aid and Access to Justice**
*”..a society based upon Christian principles demands that justice must be within the reach of every citizen, rich or poor.”* In this connection, the Minister reported that the Legal Aid Commission has delivered its interim Report, including far reaching and significant recommendations. The Commission, she says, illustrates the vision and determination of the Prime Minister in respect of participatory democracy.
**Registrar General Department**
Initiatives undertaken with regard to automation have positioned the Department on the cutting edge of technology and in the vanguard of the Government’s E-Initiative, according to the Attorney General. These include enhancements to the Companies Department, Deeds and Documents, and the introduction of Civil Registry Information Systems.
Additionally, the RGD reportedly recognizes the importance of the protection of intellectual property rights, considering it vital to the sustainability of a vibrant economy and international investor confidence in The Bahamas’ ability to protect valuable Intellectual Property. The AG reported that the World Intellectual Property Organisation is organizing a two day mission to The Bahamas in July, for the purpose of reviewing the state of IP in the Bahamas and to make recommendations from a technology and policy viewpoint.
WIPO will also assist in the implementation of a computer platform for Intellectual Property, greatly enhancing the RGD’s capacity to produce documents and certificates more efficiently on a standard platform that is internationally accepted.
Plans are now underway for the Her Majesty’s Privy Council, the final court of appeal in The Bahamas, to sit in The Bahamas in December to hear Privy Council matters set before the Privy Council from any jurisdictions for which the Privy Council is the final court of appeal. *”I am advised that this will be an historic occasion for the Privy Council and for The Bahamas, as the Law Lords of the Privy Council have never sat as a full Privy Council outside of the United Kingdom.”*
Debate on the National Budget continues in Parliament.