Home Affairs, Justice and National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis, has disclosed that there is a need for more magistrates.
But remuneration is an issue in attracting the right candidates.
“One of the problems with the magistrates is although we have advertised for the post we are not getting the caliber of persons that we want locally,” Francis stated.
He observed that persons overseas are interested but pay is an issue.
“Just like we had to do with the DPP to raise the emoluments, I think we will have to start looking at doing that for the magistracy,” he said.
Francis disclosed that the magistrates have made representation on how this can be done and the matter is now being considered with Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet.
Francis said there was need for about four additional magistrates.
He revealed that interviews were conducted.
“The process went through but I don’t think that those persons who applied were as successful as we hoped they would have been,” the minister declared.
Francis made the remarks while observing that there is no functioning courthouse in the South of the Island.
“That has been a problem for a while,” the minister explained.
He said the old police station was being renovated to be used as a courthouse.
According to Francis, there are not enough magistrates to enable them to serve the South.
He said all of the matters in Vieux Fort have been adjourned with some matters being diverted to Castries for case management while other cases have been sent to Soufriere.
Nevertheless, Francis said this poses a burden on individuals who have to pay transportation costs.
As a result he explained that “in very short order” the authorities are looking to get a building and magistrates to fill available posts.
He said one Magistrate has retired, another has been promoted and one has left due to medical issues.
As a result the minister noted that the interviewing process is continuing while an active search is underway for buildings to serve as courthouses.