Editorial

A Home For Justice

PRESIDENT of the Bar Association of Saint Lucia, Mary Juliana Charles, did not mince words when she chided the government for not taking the air quality at the court building on Peynier Street seriously last October.

So incensed was she about the situation that she gave the government notice that her legal fraternity would not enter the building unless the government produced an air quality assessment report on the premises.

Charles’ frustration at what she deemed an injustice at the halls of justice stemmed from lawyers and court staff reporting bouts of illness due to the building’s poor air quality. Pigeons, bats, rats and other vermin taking up residence in the building over the years had literally turned the place into a breeding ground for bad breathing.

Since being closed last June to undergo rehabilitation, that courthouse has remained closed with court proceedings taking place elsewhere. However, Charles maintained that despite the renovations that have taken place there, her members will not set foot in the building unless her association is furnished with an air quality assessment report.

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Charles’ stance might well have influenced government’s decision to build a new judicial complex that will house the OECS Supreme Court headquarters, Court of Appeal, High Courts, Family Courts and Magistrates. In this year’s Throne Speech, those plans were announced in order to equip the judiciary with the “modern, efficient physical arrangements to support the delivery of justice to our citizens.”

Given that the court’s infrastructure had found itself in a declining bad shape for many years, the proposed plans to ameliorate that situation that spans several administrations makes a great case for justice. Visiting public buildings, including courthouses, should not result in people visiting their doctor afterwards due to poor health.

Many people might recall the legal fraternity taking their case against the unkempt High Court building over the years seeking redress. After their pleas seemingly fell on deaf ears and their protest marches having no bearing on the status quo back then, Charles’ presidency seems to have reopened a case gone cold.

While the government does plan to “intensify its preparations to develop a new Judicial Complex” in the coming year, such preparations do not speak specifically to when the construction of such an edifice will actually begin. What has been agreed, however, is that the edifice will be situated on the Millennium Highway and that the landowner has facilitated the acquisition of the site.

Given the serious nature of the current state of the judiciary’s infrastructure and the magnitude of backlogs in cases, it is imperative that whatever political party forms the next government ensure that this idea comes to fruition as a matter of priority. After all, justice delayed is justice denied, especially when justice itself does not have a permanent place to call its home.

1 Comment

  1. DON’T PANIC. IT’S ONLY AND ELECTION.
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    Yeah right, tell that to an operative or insider who is highly invested in the government retaining its majority to maintain his standard of living.
    Or better yet, tell that to a UWP hanger-on or opportunist who has suffered nearly five years of looking on in envy while others are feeding at the trough.
    The prospect of another five more years in political limbo scares the bejesus out of him.

    This is the dynamics on a micro level as it relates to certain players in small island politics. Your party wins you enjoy the fruits of your “Labour”. It loses you eat crow at home or ship out to the metropolis. I guess it is fair to say that this scenario plays out in various ways and degrees the world over.

    THE SPIELS ARE PREDICTABLE
    ===========================

    As the campaign gathers steam we will begin to hear the pitches or spiels of the various parties vying for our votes. Don’t blame me if I do not countenance stirring rhetoric that appeals to our best instincts and inspire hope and confidence.

    Rather rest assured that the incumbent will tells us that things have never been better and we should return them to office so we can continue to bask in these “better days”.
    Of course they will also warn us that we will be flirting with an impending dystopia if we were to elect the other party.

    On the other hand the opposition will rebut by telling us not buy the false narrative of “happy days are here again” that the government is plying.
    Expect them to say that while it may be true for the well positioned and connected the reality on the ground for the majority is the complete opposite.

    As is always the case, the opposition usually has all the answers to our woes, all inflicted by an uncaring and out of touch government, and the sooner we ditch the imposters the better for all of us.

    WHAT NOT TO BUY INTO
    =====================

    When the countervailing narratives are distilled the message we get is that the country is perilously perched on a ledge and depending on the colour we choose, it can mean an unprecedented era of great prosperity or one where we irrevocably spiral down an abyss of doom and gloom.

    The truth is, “notten ah go so”. Don’t buy any of them.

    We should not buy into the ratcheting up the fear mongering that we are headed on the road to perdition if we vote one way or the other.
    We must not buy into those who want to present this election as a zero sum game for us. Where we, as a country, win or lose the future on the basis of the result of one election.

    We must reject outright both the doomsday scenario and the economic nirvana narratives.

    WE KNOW WHAT TIME OF DAY IT IS.
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    We are a smart enough electorate we no longer fall for pie in the sky, and a chicken in every pot promises. We know what time it is even in the geopolitics and how we feature in it.

    We are a resilient people with a history of fight, determination, and record of activism. We have brought down governments in mid-term by our activism. Lest we forget.

    We have rebuilt our country after successive storms, both meteorological and economic. We have made strides globally despite of our government in some cases.

    We know that governments are nothing but facilitators and cheerleaders for us and that it is through our collective ingenuity, toil, and sacrifice that we make strides.

    We know that after the last ballot is cast and the winner announced that the victor is not necessarily the party but the country in the final analysis, or so we hope.

    WE ARE THE VICTORS
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    Our country will have won because we did not shed blood to keep or change our government. We kept our composure and exercised our franchise with determination, alacrity, and dignity. That is winning.

    We also know that the next day after the vote that Saint Lucia and Saint Lucians will still be there to fight through and assert itself in hostile world. Winning.

    Activism will not stop, political parties will not disband, media houses will not be closed, church bells will still ring on Sundays, and water will still be all around our land if not in our taps.

    We will not panic, sulk or become depressed, although a few might but they will get over it eventually.
    Neither will we disengage or become disconnected from our families, friends, communities, and nation, certainly not because the people have spoken.
    We’ve been there, done that. Life goes on. Keep calm and vote.

    After all, it’s just an election.

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