Outspoken Attorney at Law, Mary Francis, has asserted that the situation at magistrates’ courts here is intolerable and needs urgent attention.
Francis made specific reference to the court which she said is being held in a ‘little cubicle’ downstairs at the Family Court building.
“According to our constitution and our laws the courts are supposed to held in public,” she told the Times.
However Francis, who is the Coordinator of the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights, declared that members of the public are being shut out because of the physical limitations of the court houses.
She recalled that one year age she drew the situation to attention of the authorities.
However she lamented that nothing has been done to address the problem.
Francis has issued an invitation to the Minister responsible for Justice, Hermangild Francis, to sit for 15 minutes in the court downstairs at the Family Court building to experience first hand what others endure.
She asserted that the situation is disrespectful to those who have to use the court system.
“I understand through the last budget address that the courts would be housed – probably soon from now, in the national cultural centre building, but what about the people who actually use the centre for culture and arts?” Francis told the Times.
“Two million dollars I have been told was spent on the Peynier courthouse building. Why not knock it down and then rebuild?” She said, adding that the building is of no use.
Francis told the Times that she understands Saint Lucia has financial problems.
However she observed that providing proper court facilities should be a priority.
“Two million dollars was spent over two years on a building and we have to be going from place to place, from building to building to hold court and it is just locked down there – just there looking at us,” the Attorney at Law stated.
She asserted that the Peynier Street property should be knocked down and a new structure built on the site.
As far as Francis was concerned, that is a better idea than spending money on the national cultural centre.
“We love our court in the centre of Castries,” she told the Times.