The Government of Canada funded Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean (IMPACT Justice) Project hosted a ‘Conference on the Constitutions and Model Legislative Initiatives in the OECS’ on December 5-6, 2019 at Ocean Terrace Inn in Saint Kitts. The IMPACT Justice Project is implemented from within the Caribbean Law Institute Centre, Faculty of Law, The University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus.
Topics on the agenda were: a comparative analysis of OECS constitutions; the standardisation of judicial pensions in the OECS; highlights of IMPACT Justice’s Model Business Names Registration and Trade Marks bills; the potential establishment of a sexual offences registry; arbitration in the OECS; providing for continuing legal professional development (CLPD) in small jurisdictions; the benefits of community mediation; and, gender-based analysis plus and the IMPACT Justice Sexual Harassment Model Bill.
The participants comprised of parliamentarians from Anguilla, Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. They were joined by representatives of the legal fraternity from throughout the OECS, with representatives from the Bar Associations of Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, the OECS Bar Association, and the Organisation of Commonwealth Caribbean Bar Association. Members of the media from Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines were also present.
The objectives of the conference were to enhance awareness of OECS constitutional provisions and to encourage consideration of IMPACT Justice drafted legislation by governments through explaining some of the key provisions and sensitizing their representatives to the initiatives. The presence of the media also served to ensure that the information shared at the conference would be disseminated throughout the OECS.
In her remarks at the opening of the event, High Commissioner of Canada to the OECS, Her Excellency Marie Legault, pleaded with the delegates to ensure that the model legislation provided and the legislative drafters trained by IMPACT Justice are utilised to meet the needs of the region’s countries and to enhance capacity where possible. The Hon. Pam Webster delivered remarks on behalf of the OECS Assembly, offering thanks to the Government of Canada for providing the opportunity for regional parliamentarians to gather in such a forum and noted that these initiatives help to assure the region that Canada is serious about its development. She concluded that development projects such as IMPACT Justice are a worthwhile investment in the region.