The Hon. Shirley Osborne, Speaker of the Montserrat Legislative Assembly (MLA) has been invited to address the 21 st Commonwealth Law Conference (CLC) in Livingstone, Zambia in April. The speaker will join the panel on the Latimer House Principles to discuss issues of good governance and the rule of the law in the Commonwealth.
The Latimer House Guidelines for the Commonwealth on Good Practice Governing Relations between the Executive, Parliament and the Judiciary, deal with issues such as the harmonious balancing of power and the interaction between parliament, the executive and the judiciary in democratic societies. They set out in detail the consensus arrived at by representatives of the three branches of government in the Commonwealth on how each of their national institutions should interrelate in the exercise of their institutional responsibility and have been endorsed by Commonwealth Heads of Government on several occasions over the years.
The Latimer House Principles reinforce the philosophy of the separation of powers and declare that while it is recognized that the special circumstances of small and/or under-resourced jurisdictions may require adaptation of these Guidelines, each institution must, however, exercise responsibility and restraint in the exercise of power within its own constitutional sphere so as not to encroach on the legitimate dis-charge of constitutional functions by the other institutions.
According to Dr. Peter Slinn, Vice-President of the Commonwealth Legal Education Association, and of Dr Karen Brewer, Secretary General of the Commonwealth Magistrates’ and Judges’ Association, most problems which arise in the Commonwealth derive from a continued lack of understanding of each institution’s role in the governance process. The Commonwealth “Latimer House” Principles call for judiciaries and parliaments to ‘fulfill their respective but critical roles…and ‘each new generation of government officers, parliamentarians, lawyers, judicial officers and members of civil society, therefore, has to be alert to the imperatives of, and balance between, the independence and accountability of the judiciary, parliament and the executive…’
In recommending Speaker Osborne to the CLC, Akbar Khan, the Secretary General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, has written that, “Hon Osborne is a distinguished parliamentarian, who as a Speaker of a small legislature in the Caribbean, Americas and Atlantic Region of the CPA (Commonwealth Parliamentary Association), is well versed in managing the challenges of implementing the Latimer House principles and its adherence. She has a wide knowledge of the CPA as the former Vice Chairperson and in many different Parliamentary roles, including promoting youth engagement, gender equality and combating political violence against women parliamentarians. We are very lucky to have secured her willingness to participate.”
In Zambia, Madam Speaker will be joined on the Latimer House Panel by the Honourable Justice Graeme Mew of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice and the Honourable Marlene Malahoo Forte, the Attorney General of Jamaica and elected Member of Parliament for the
constituency of St. James West Central.