Opposition leader, Doctor Gale Rigobert, has lamented a number of social ills plaguing Saint Lucia and is urging a quadrupling of efforts to deal with them.
Rigobert was addressing a ceremony today at the Mindoo Phillip Park to mark this country’s 37th Independence anniversary.
She spoke on the theme: “Rebuilding the civic fabric of our nation”.
The opposition leader remarked that on occasions like the anniversary of independence, many find it difficult to resist the temptation to catalogue Saint Lucia’s achievements as a young nation.
She disclosed that she too beams with pride each time she is reminded of the talent, creativity and resilience of the people of this country.
However Rigobert warned that there is a more sobering truth that if neglected for much longer, will continue to chip away at the very things of which Saint Lucians boast.
She recalled that since last independence the daily newscasts have been replete with reports that cause cause citizens to quiver.
“The lives of our young are snatched away from us, some succumbing to brutal acts of murder; others’ lives have changed dramatically because of the horror of rape and sexual assault, and families are left with the inexplicable death of their loved ones by their own hand, that is, suicide,” Rigobert observed.
According to her, assault and grievous bodily harm seem the norm in settling scores, especially among the youth.
Rigobert told her audience that even more worrying, is the increasing trend of threats being made by disagreeable parties, with police reporting record numbers of these in some communities.
“That reality jolts us and raises questions about the social trajectory of our society,” she said.
“We cannot continue to pretend that this ugliness is a passing news item, while families harbor deep seated pain that eat them at their core; and many still languish in their misery as they await justice for the wrong they have suffered.”
She explained that the country can no longer accept convenient truths about an eroding human rights record, or pretend not to know the full implications of a resource starved judiciary and what that means for the realization of swift justice, especially for those wrongly accused and those whose lives have been wrecked by criminals.
The opposition leader said the society should not rest comfortably knowing that there are inadequate facilities for vulnerable children, and should have no tolerance for the heinous acts that send toddlers and children to their grave prematurely.
“Saint Lucia should not have to be singled out as a country where child offenders are inappropriately detained in spaces unfit for them. Our penal and legal systems must be more sensitive to child rights and this country must move swiftly to enact laws that protect our children and treat them appropriately when they are found to be in breach of the law,” she said.
Rigobert appealed to the powers that be to commit to seeing the Child Justice Bill through to enactment.
“It has been stuck in the pipelines for way too long,” she declared.
“It is a call to all of us, to rise to the occasion and quadruple our efforts to stem this downward social spiral. And that is not the responsibility of any one agency more so than another. It is our collective responsibility.”