Human Rights campaigner, Mary Francis, has made another impassioned appeal for the government to provide equality, equity and access to justice for poor citizens, especially when human rights are violated.
Francis is the Coordinator of the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights.
“I think the powers that be – they are not paying sufficient attention to the lack of access to justice for the poorer people in our midst,” she told St Lucia Times.
“We are existing in the situation where we have the United Kingdom civil procedure rules – they have been imported into our civil procedure rules which govern our civil procedure rules for bringing matters before the High Court,” Francis observed.
She explained that this may have been practical at the time of introduction.
However Francis asserted that the cost to a small economically deprived country needs to be considered, as the poor are usually the ones who find themselves in conflict with the law because of social problems they experience.
“They don’t have legal problems, they have social problems which cause them to be in conflict with the law – that must be recognised,” the Human Rights Activist declared.
The outspoken Attorney at Law noted that because the High Court is prohibitive for the poor man, ‘ameliorating factors’ must be introduced.
“We have the question of mediation. Why is it that the executive, the cabinet, and the Attorney General cannot actually subject themselves to mediation?” She asked, while observing that mediation is currently part of the justice system.
Francis told St Lucia Times that poor people are beaten and hurt by the police and do not have the money to seek legal redress in the courts .
She said the government legal aid system does not support those individuals.
“They have no money, so do you deny them justice? Why can’t the crown subject themselves to mediation?” Francis stated.
She expressed the view that in matters concerning the violation of rights, because it is too expensive for poor people to go to the courts, the government should set up a tribunal to deal with matters pertaining to human rights and policing.
“Have this tribunal to look at the facts and on the merit, compensate those people – monetary compensation,” Francis told St Lucia Times.