02 September, 2010
The FCO proposes to have the Constitution of
Montserrat permit the removal of trial by jury: The wording of section 6 of the draft Constitution makes possible the removal of the right to trial by jury. There is no suggestion that the people of Montserrat consider this new development either advisable or desirable. This proposal may have been stimulated by recent failures in prosecution mainly of sexual cases. Such failures, from what I have been told, spring from patent weaknesses in the prosecution’s cases, and not to any perversity of the jury.
This is not the only assault on the fundamental right of the people of
Montserrat to the protection of law. The same section 6 contains a provision contemplating abolition of the right to appeal from some or all convictions in the Magistrate’s Court. Such a drastic curtailment of this fundamental right is inappropriate without thorough consultation with and support from the people of Montserrat, of which there is no evidence.