Dear Editor: ‘Justice delayed is justice denied’ is probably the most fitting phrase that could adequately describe the situation with the St. Lucian justice system where news that a number of persons have been on remand for up to 10 years without a trial have become the norm – ‘stale news’.
Public pleas by members of the local judiciary over the years, for government to hire additional staff to speed up the prosecution process, have been seemingly ignored, despite the growing backlog of cases.
Director of Public Prosecutions Victoria Charles-Clarke echoed similar sentiments at a news conference this week, where she was forced to respond to criticisms expressed by a ruling party minister on the political platform.
Charles-Clarke told reporters that in June 2015, she wrote to the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Legal Affairs requesting the appointment of a Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions and two senior Crown Counsel.
The DPP said it was her hope that the appointment of the additional staff, which was “long outstanding”, would have released her from daily duties to enable her to focus attention on the IMPACS Report, and also provide much needed assistance to conduct research in the matter.
To date no, additional appointments have been made to the staff compliment of the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions, the DPP declared.
“It should be noted that I have been operating without a Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions since 2010 and without a full compliment of 10 lawyers approved for my department since 2004,” Charles-Clarke said.
We the members of the public are calling on Justice Minister Victor La Corbiniere to issue a full statement in response to the DPP’s claim.
Are those statements true Mr. Minister? Why have you not added staff to the DPP’s office? Are you happy with the state of the justice system?
Mr. La Corbiniere is being paid by taxpayers and as such we deserve a response. We are tired of hearing from the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia on matters of crime, violence and the judiciary. Why do we have a minister in charge of security and justice?
Sir, we need to hear from you.