Mary Francis has called for the establishment of a special tribunal to compensate persons who have been the victims of police excesses.
“For some time now it seems to be that there is need for a new mechanism set up by the government,” the Human Rights Activist and Attorney at Law told the Times.
Francis said there are persons who have suffered at the hands of the police, some of whom have lost their limbs and been deformed as a result of police shootings.
“In some cases bullets remain stuck in their bodies,” she disclosed, adding that most of the victims are young men who are unemployed and come from deprived backgrounds.
She told the Times that for some reason the young men get into conflict with the law and there is an abuse of power.
She called on the new government as part of justice reform, to set up a compensation tribunal whereby the cases of such individuals can be heard.
Francis disclosed that she has some of those cases before the court.
The Human Rights Activist observed that it takes a very long time for them to be dealt with, as everyone knows that the justice system here is inadequate and lacks resources.
She asserted that it cannot be fair that individuals who are unemployed and have had their limbs amputated as a result of police excesses, cannot take care of their medical bills or afford a lawyer to get justice and compensation.
Francis noted that the state has a duty to protect human rights.
“There needs to be real opportunity to get justice,’ she declared.
She told the Times that she is aware that there are a lot of angry young men on the streets because she meets them and they visit her law office to get justice and closure to their matters.
“In some of the cases the evidence is clear that the police have overreacted, so why do the victims have to wait and languish to get compensation for their injuries? That cannot be justice,” Francis stated.
She observed that she has noticed that there is no policy in Saint Lucia where police officers are sent on administrative leave while matters are being investigated.
“We have them in office still, drawing a monthly salary and those poor victims have nothing for themselves,” an impassioned Francis told the Times.
She said there must be a tribunal in place to look at the evidence and where compensation is merited, can settle the matter.