Attorney at Law and Human Rights advocate Mary Francis has urged the authorities to address societal inequalities and build strong institutions to protect human rights and fight crime.
Francis spoke ahead of Human Rights Day, observed on December 10.
The 2022 Theme of Human Rights Day is Dignity, Freedom, and Justice for All.
Francis, the Coordinator of the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights, declared that there will always be crime without justice.
In this regard, she spoke of the need to fix what she described as the broken court system in which the people have lost confidence.
According to the outspoken Human Rights campaigner, the theme for Human Rights Day represented a clarion call to address all societal inequities, including poverty.
She also spoke of the importance of addressing the needs for housing, health, access to justice, and freedom from fear caused by crime.
“Freedom of expression- people have a fear of speaking out against governments in Saint Lucia. Freedom from oppression of all kinds and justice for all – everyone should be equal before the law,” Francis told St Lucia Times.
She also reiterated calls for a government-funded National Human Rights Commission.
And in line with the Human Rights Day theme, she recommended unemployment benefits for at least six months from the National Insurance Corporation (NIC) for the many unemployed individuals.
“When you are unemployed, your human rights are affected – your right to health, to housing, to feed yourself,” Francis noted
She also expressed concern about the large remand population at the Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF).
Francis acknowledged that those individuals are accused of crimes and breaching the rights of others.
Nevertheless, she asserted that justice delayed is justice denied.
In addition, Francis encouraged Saint Lucians to get educated about human rights.
“People must stop thinking of castigating persons who advocate for human rights because human rights are about the rule of law, putting people first, and the development of people – they have to understand that,” she told St Lucia Times.