Attorney at Law Mary Francis has urged police discretion after COVID wardens disrupted a funeral service in Castries.
The incident occurred at the Basilica of the Immaculate Conception on Monday afternoon.
Eyewitnesses said the wardens entered the building and escorted people out because their names did not appear on a list.
The officiating Priest acknowledged that the wardens had a duty to perform.
But he chided the officers, saying they were creating a nuisance and a disturbance.
Attorney Mary Francis said she supports the state suspending certain rights in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The constitution gives the state that authority,” she told St Lucia Times.
But she said the level and manner of enforcing the protocols should be proportionate to the type of breach.
Francis also said the officers should take into account where the breach occurs.
In this regard, she cited freedom of religion and the right of people to worship.
And Francis said officers must exercise some level of discretion in enforcing COVID-19 protocols.
“I do not know that the state can take precedence over the house of God like that,” she asserteed.
Francis also expressed concern that in the current COVID-19 environment, no monitoring agency exists.
She said there should be such a body to address the complaints of citizens.
Francis expressed the view that officers could have handled the situation in the Catholic church on Monday differently.
She noted that the law makes it an offence for someone to disrupt a funeral.
The Coordinator of the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights noted that people are mourning at a funeral.
“We cannot lose our heart,” Francis explained.
However, she said when officers exercise discretion, people cooperate better and respect the law.