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DPP Laments Deplorable State of Justice System on Island

Director of Public Prosecutions, Daasrean Greene this week mourned the pitiable state of the penal system and other judiciary affairs on the island.

Speaking at the virtual launch of the 2022 Law Year the DPP made some startling revelations regarding the prosecution of murder suspects and the inability of the current court structure to deal with those matters.

Mr. Daasrean Greene, Saint Lucia's Director of Public Prosecutions
Mr. Daasrean Greene, Saint Lucia’s Director of Public Prosecutions

Greene lamented that there are several challenges confronting the local justice system, which require efficient and urgent resolutions. He listed issues that include an overload of prisoners on remand, and the courts’ inability to effectively utilize digital technology.

He also spoke of the inability of the DPP’s office to conduct murder trials, due to the unavailability of adequate courtroom space compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This pandemic has led to significant backlogs in the conduct of jury trials. The majority of our member states are without trial by judge alone legislation,” declared Greene.

“In the state of St Lucia, it is of great concern that the remand population at our correctional facility significantly surpasses its penal,” he added. “Presently, there are 327 persons on remand at our correctional facility as opposed to a 172 penal.”

Greene added: “There are over 90 persons awaiting trial for the offence of murder while we continue to struggle with the difficulty of finding appropriate housing for our courts.”

Citing the impact of COVID-19 on the courts’ operations, the DPP disclosed that not a single murder case has been prosecuted, since January 2020.

Greene explained that COVID-19 pandemic restrictions constrain jury trials. He disclosed that none of the courtrooms could accommodate the number of jurors required to try murder offences while observing physical distancing measures.

“This is due to the physical distancing requirement posed on us by this virus,” he said. “Consequently, my office has not been able to embark on a murder trial, since January 2020. This situation is critical …and it is recorded against the backdrop that in 2021, St Lucia recorded the highest number of homicides in its history.”

With Saint Lucia experiencing a record number of homicides in 2021, the DPP emphasized the need to put in requisite measures to better manage this situation.

“I remain hopeful that the difficulty in providing suitable housing for the court will not continue this year and that my office will be in a position to significantly reduce the number of pending murder trials,” the DPP said.

Barring the complexity of the challenges faced, Greene reported that the DPP’s office has made some gains in that a total of 316 indictable criminal matters were dealt with last year, through the use of digital technology.

However, the DPP expressed optimism with regards to the use of technology to dispense justice effectively and in a timely manner.

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