Prime Minister Allen Chastanet, declaring that tackling crime is a multi-faceted and complex issue, disclosed Monday that there are over 1000 cases for murder backed up in the courts.
The Saint Lucia PM made the comments while detailing efforts his administration is making on several fronts to address crime.
“We have, I think, over 1000 cases for murder backed up and it is taking forever to get the court system back up and running. We have made a huge attempt with the Nyerah Court. We are in discussion about bringing more Judges in,” Chastanet stated.
However he observed that the judges cannot come until there is more physical space.
“You will recall when I came in as Prime Minister, not even one week in office and I got a briefing and understood how bad things were because I knew they were bad. I didn’t know they were that bad,” the PM observed.
He told reporters he was prepared to offer the Ministry of Finance building to house the courts.
Chastanet recalled that a three-month analysis was done and there was a hold put on the transfer of civil servants into the building.
“I was heartbroken when the decision was made not to do that because that set us back a couple of years until we can get proper courts,” he explained.
Chastanet spoke of the new police headquarters which is going to be built near the old prison on Bridge Street and stated that it will include six courts.
“So let’s fix the court system. Let’s get some more judges in,” he asserted.
However Chastanet revealed hat there is a difficulty in recruiting magistrates.
“When you look at the cost of living and also the salaries we are paying for Magistrates in the Windward Islands and you compare it to the Leeward Islands – big difference,” he noted.
The PM said as a result, people are no prepared to leave the Leeward Islands to come and work in the Windward Islands.
“It means that we have got now to increase the salaries, so we are looking at gving Magistrates tax free salaries in this country in order to do a better job of recruiting new Magistrates,” the Prime Minister stated.