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Strong institutions key to upholding law, order – President Ali

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Legal luminaries were on Wednesday urged to collaborate with the various institutions to build resilient legal systems that tackle the root causes of crime and foster a modern and efficient justice landscape.

President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali made the statement while speaking during the First Legal Conference on Criminal Justice Reform at the Marriott Hotel in Kingston, Georgetown.

President, Dr Mohamed Irfaan Ali

The head of state explained that the criminal justice system does not operate in a vacuum but rather is linked to various elements of society such as the environment, culture, and the economy.

“Sometimes we get carried away with the indicators of crime and criminality, and we do not focus on the origination of crime and criminality. In speaking about crime and criminality, to reinforce the point, we immediately move to the stats, which, in my opinion, are the indicators of the problem,” the president said.

He identified three pillars for maintaining order: political stability, rule of law, and democracy.

President Ali said a strong legal system upholds these principles, which in turn, weaken criminal activity.

“The criminal network and enterprise feed off certain things. If there is political instability, if the rule of law does not exist, if society operates in an undemocratic environment, criminality feeds off of that,” he explained.

Judicial predictability, characterised by sound decision-making, was another point of emphasis.

“If you examine similar issues by different magistrates across the region, and see the variation in decisions, then it exposes the system to all sorts of assertions, and we have to guard the system and the only way we can do this is if the elements of judicial predictability that is based on fairness and justice is kept intact,” the president highlighted.

He also used regional statistics to illustrate the urgency. He cited a 2023 study showing a violent crime rate in CARICOM nations nearly triple the global average.

A section of the gathering at the First Legal Conference on Criminal Justice Reform

Tackling this requires a collective effort beyond just executive action, President Ali asserted.

“If we don’t build strong, relevant institutions, then we will not build for the future. How do we build institutions that can withstand transition in governments? The people vote, you have changes, but there is a transition, and that is an important aspect of political stability,” he noted.

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Mohabir Anil Nandlall, SC, Judge of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), Chairman of the CCJ Academy for Law and Chairman of the Needham’s Point Declaration Monitoring, Evaluating and Facilitating Committee, Justice Winston Anderson, and Chancellor of the Judiciary Madam Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards, OR, CCH, were among those delivering remarks at the opening ceremony.

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