Human Rights Activist, Mary Francis, has urged the creation here of a Human Rights Commission.
Francis told the Times that over the years she has given serious thought to the lack of sufficient structures for the promotion and protection of human rights.
She observed that this is an election year.
The outspoken Attorney at Law noted that as the Coordinator of the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights, the organization has struggled over the years to develop the capacity to protect human rights.
“I would like to make a call for the establishment of a human rights commission by the party that forms the government,” she told the Times.
Francis asserted that the constitution of Saint Lucia establishes fundamental rights which are increasingly being violated.
She was of the opinion that establishing an independent Human Rights Commission funded by the government, would greatly bolster the promotion and protection of all aspects of human rights.
“Until then we have to circumnavigate the courts which is a circuitous way of vindicating our human rights because people have no money – the persons who are readily violated are poor people and they do not have the wherewithal to go to the courts to challenge the might of the state,” Francis said.
She observed that a Human Rights Commission can examine cases as they arise and award compensation where necessary, instead of persons having to seek redress in court.
Francis told the Times that it has been five years since five men were killed by the Police in Vieux Fort during the law enforcement campaign dubbed –Operation Restore Confidence.
“Where is the compensation?” She asked.
The Human Rights Activist also spoke of the need to reform existing laws.
She explained that since independence there has never been an initiative to have a Law Reform Commission.
Francis said Saint Lucia has never adapted its laws to ensure that they allow protection of fundamental rights – including housing rights.
“We should have legislation to prevent arbitrary eviction of persons by landlords because we have a right to housing as part of international covenant of civil and political rights,” the Attorney at Law stated.
Declaring that the government is not serious about human rights issues, Francis vowed to campaign for the establishment of a Human Rights Commission.