Prime Minister Allen Chastanet Monday said there are more than 1,000 cases for murder within the court system as he declared his administration’s intention to tackling crime in St. Lucia.
“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 said.
But he acknowledged that the judges would not be able to function unless there’s 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,” he said, telling reporters he was prepared to offer the Ministry of Finance building tin the capital 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, noting that it will include six courts.
“So let’s fix the court system. Let’s get some more judges in,” he said, adding also that 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 said, noting that as a result, people are not 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 giving magistrates tax free salaries in this country in order to do a better job of recruiting new magistrates,” Chastanet said.
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