Doughty Street in Caribbean death row pro bono mission

Doughty Street Chambers is sending a junior to the Caribbean to investigate setting up a branch office as a means of improving co-ordination of the flow of death row pro bono cases before the Privy Council.

The junior, Quincy Whitaker, said death row prisoners in the region need better representation as there is no legal aid, limited local counsel support and a lack of due diligence.

Her expedition has the backing of the London Panel of Solicitors, made up of lawyers from City firms willing to take on death row cases from the Caribbean on a pro bono basis.

According to Christine Kings, practice manager at Doughty Street, tenants find that cases come in at the last moment and are badly prepared, due in part to a lack of resources in the Caribbean. She said there was a remote possibility that her chambers would set up an office in the region.

The study comes at a time when the attorney general of Trinidad and Tobago has voiced interest in changing the jurisdiction over death row cases from the Privy Council to a local last court of appeal.

Whitaker is hoping that if Trinidad and Tobago take jurisdiction over death row cases, the body of law built up by the Privy Council on these cases will be maintained.

She has taken a number of cases in front of the Privy Council and has found the work “very satisfying”.

Whitaker is a strong advocate of banning capital punishment.