No more window dressing – the minimalist approach to reforming the Justice System/ Legal System needs to be dispensed with.
The days when the CROWN, the State (where the CROWN is not part of the Constitutional arrangement) otherwise the State/Government can do no wrong are over.
Here, in St. Lucia is established, a Constitutional democracy with fundamental rights and freedoms (including access to justice) enshrined in the Constitution.
Therefore in dispensing justice, it is critical that there be more cognizance of the realities of the poor and marginalized who are increasingly denied justice in the Courts.
Presumably the poor will fight back if “their cases are not dealt with justly” and in their fight for justice the National Centre for Legal Aid And Human Rights Inc. stands full square in solidarity with the people.
With this in mind, a series of community meetings will be held to mobilize, organize and educate for liberation from an inherently unjust legal system, where State immunity is indorsed and where the practise that the Crown can do no wrong still exists.
With fundamental Human Rights guaranteed in the Constitution, the State can have no more privilege over and above the people in access to justice before the Courts of the land.
Why should the State be afforded privileges over and above the ordinary citizens who seek justice in the Courts for the protection of their Fundamental Human Rights? This flies in the face of the positive duty placed on the State and its agents, all those dispensing justice, to protect the Human Rights of those seeking justice. Furthermore the State exists for the citizens not the citizens for the State. If this be the case, then there is no room for Crown (State) privilege.
There must be a paradigm shift. More Judges by itself will not reflect or bring about a Justice System where those who dispense justice demonstrate a predisposition to understand the plight of the poor. It is all about attitude, a philosophy which demonstrates an understanding of the relationship between Justice and real development.
Those then who dispense justice can help in the rehabilitation of our people, thus having a transformational effect on the society and on the people who still bear the scourge of historical prejudice of the colonial past.
These are the qualities which should prevail in the dispensation of justice in the 21st century. There must be a willingness not to be enslaved by British Court procedural Rules, which are not entirely suitable for poor, small impoverished countries.
It is said that “Justice is blind.” But the people are tired, our souls are weary, no longer will we be longsuffering. The people especially the poor, the unemployed and marginalized need RELIEF, RELIEF from the practise of State immunity.
No longer can the Crown (the State/Government) do no wrong. We’re approaching 38 years of Independence, there must be power to the people in achieving access to real justice and so the slogan is mobilize, organize and educate for Liberation from the unjust Legal System.
Dated: 25th January, 2017
Mary M. Francis
Attorney-at-Law & Coordinator
National Centre for Legal Aid
And Human Rights Inc.