Human Rights Activist, Mary Francis, has called on all persons in Saint Lucia to pause for a few minutes to reflect on the status of human rights here, as Saturday, December 10, is observed as Human Rights Day.
This year’s theme is: “Stand up for Someone’s Rights Today.”
Francis, who is the Coordinator of the National Centre for Legal id and Human Rights, has urged that all citizens ask themselves whether past governments have made the advancement and protection of human rights a priority in the scheme of social and economic development.
“Upon serious reflection there are many issues,” the outspoken Attorney at Law said in a statement.
She highlighted the issues as including unemployment with the youth hardest hit, violence against women and children, a broken down justice system with an overcrowded remand prison population and administrative injustice.
Francis stated that those issues negatively affect the rights of people as human beings to the full enjoyment of all human rights including civil, political, social, economic and cultural rights.
She observed that the Constitution Chapter I guarantees all persons in St. Lucia Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and makes the Court the guardian of those rights.
“Without adequate legal aid, which ensures that citizens benefit from equal access to justice (equality before the Law and protection of the Law), coupled with a broken and dysfunctional Court System, there is no guardian to protect the people from abuse of their Fundamental Rights and Freedoms, as guaranteed in the Constitution,” Francis stated.
She said at this juncture the Office of Public Defender is required to be established in St. Lucia.
“On Human Rights Day 10th December 2016, as Coordinator of the National Centre For Legal Aid And Human Rights Inc., a non-governmental Organisation, I call upon all St. Lucians to “Stand up for someone’s Rights,” starting in the home where domestic violence occurs. Speak out, Stand up for the marginalized in our midst, the mentally challenged individuals, the victims of Police abuse and the remand inmates, for the family members of the 12 men killed during Operation Restore Confidence, 2011. ”
She declared that those persons need justice now.
The Human Rights Activist called on the authorities to stop” shelving” the 2014 IMPACS Report.
“The family of Chakadan hanged in Police Custody needs justice now,” Francis declared.
“Let’s all Stand up, one for all and all for one, and call upon the Government to reopen the High Court Building on Peynier Street,” she said.
Francis, as Coordinator of the National Centre For Legal Aid And Human Rights Inc., reiterated a call to the Government to move urgently to establish a National Human Rights Commission for St. Lucia.
She explained that with such a commission in place, local legislation can be reviewed and be made compliant with the conventions which St. Lucia has ratified, so as to give the protection of human rights a central place in the development of St. Lucia and its people.