Human Rights advocate Mary Francis has supported Saint Lucia’s plan to join the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ), announced by Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre.
Pierre indicated that Saint Lucia was working on accession to the court’s appellate jurisdiction in his New Year address.
“We must not be afraid of our own potential to do great things and trust our institutions and systems,” Pierre declared this week on his official Facebook page.
The CCJ settles disputes between Caribbean Community (CARICOM) member states and also serves as the highest court of appeals on civil and criminal matters for the national courts of Barbados, Belize, and Guyana.
The National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights coordinator, Mary Francis, told St Lucia Times that she was not against this country joining the CCJ.
“I think it is time to solidify our independence in the Caribbean by joining the CCJ and removing the Privy Council from our justice system,” the outspoken Attorney at Law declared.
She noted that the sun had long set over the British Empire.
“Over sixty years now, the independence movement has gone on, and to solidify it we have to really access the CCJ,” Francis stated.
However, she pointed out that the Prime Minister is aware of ‘the cancer’ of brutality by some police officers against citizens in Saint Lucia.
Francis declared that Pierre has to take a serious look at this country’s justice system to see how the culture of impunity in the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) can stop.
“In opposition, in government, they always just turn a blind eye to the question of police brutality because they are concentrating on the police being there to prevent crime, but prevention of crime does not include brutality,” she stated.
“I have not heard the Prime Minister denounce or make any statement denouncing the case of the man who was tied to a pole. This was a breach of his right not to be treated inhumanely,” Francis asserted.
She also said she had not heard Home Affairs Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte speak regarding the issue.
Police Commissioner Milton Desir has disclosed that an investigation is underway after reports that an off-duty police officer handcuffed a man to a pole in the community of Sarrot, Castries, for over sixteen hours over the alleged theft of oranges.
According to reports, residents beat the man who was left exposed to the elements.
Police Commissioner Milton Desir said after receiving the complaint, an investigator was immediately assigned to the case to provide findings to the Deputy Commissioner of Police, who would make recommendations to the Police Commissioner.
And he warned against vigilante justice.