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(SNO) — The Saint Lucia government is hoping to clear 70 percent of the backlog of court cases by the end of 2019.
In his 2019-2020 Budget Address, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet said the backlog is being cleared through the efforts of the Forensic Lab and the Nyerah Court.
Chastanet said investigation and prosecution are an integral part of reducing crime.
“Forensic Lab is already working through the backlog of cases needed to provide evidence in pending criminal cases.
“Similarly, the re-opening of the Nyerah Criminal Court has resulted in 25% of old cases being cleared, with the target of 70% of backlog cases being cleared by year-end,” Chastanet said.
The government had, on February 24, 2017, announced that the island’s Forensic Science Laboratory was reopened.
During a press briefing at the time, Minister for Home Affairs, Justice and National Security, Senator Hermangild Francis, explained that the government adopted a “phased approach” to the reopening which it hoped will facilitate the transition to full operations.
Francis said the lab was closed on May 6, 2015 “when it was discovered that there were improprieties in evidence handling and the security of the facility”.
Meanwhile, Nyerah was reopened on February 4, 2019 with more than 1,000 cases on backlog.
The court closed in April 2018 due to poor working conditions and inadequate security — among other reasons – which resulted in protests by staff.