PM Douglas says society must understand enormous importance of jury service

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, MAY 15TH 2012 (CUOPM) – Government’s move to ensure that jurors empanelled to serve on criminal cases do not lose income is an important step in the preservation of justice.

“In addition, we certainly do not want only the well-off to be able to serve, free of financial anxiety because the role of a juror is an important one,” said Prime Minister Douglas during his weekly radio programme “Ask the Prime Minister” on Tuesday.

He was at the time commenting on legislation now before the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly that obligates employers to pay employees their full salary or wages while they perform jury duties.

“It is the cornerstone of the criminal justice system in countries large and small. And we want Kittitians and Nevisians to understand the enormous importance of their service to the nation, in this regard. As a result, we will, this week, be introducing legislation to ensure that those who are called for jury duty will no longer have to be worried about the financial implications of such service because, by law, their employers will be required to provide them with their normal salary during the period that they are serving on a jury,” said Dr. Douglas.

He told listeners it is an important step forward in terms of the entire society being more involved in the pursuit and preservation of justice.

“I very much look forward to the day when this will, indeed, be the law of the land. Indeed, under the language as proposed by Attorney General the Honorable Patrice Nesbitt, an employer who fails to pay the salary of an employee on jury duty will be made to pay a fine – and this fine could be as high as EC$10,000. So it is important that we all take this proposed change very seriously,” said Dr. Douglas.

One caller from Nevis suggested to Prime Minister Douglas that the government find a way to ensure that self-employed are compensated for loss of income when they serve as jurors.

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