SLU: Nyerah Court reopens as case backlog exceeds 1000
With more than 1000 cases on backlog waiting to be heard in St. Lucia (SLU), the local judiciary is all too happy to learn that the Nyerah Courthouse, home to the high court, reopened on Monday, February 4, 2019.
The courthouse closed its doors in April of last year for several reasons including inadequate security, which staff protested, and poor working conditions, which lawyers and judges also protested.
Justice, Home Affairs and National Security Minister Hermangild Francis, during a media tour of the refurbished building recently confirmed Monday as the re-opening date of the court and the huge backlog of cases waiting to be tackled.
“This is now a very, very efficient courthouse,” Francis said, adding that it cost the government almost EC$1,000,000 to bring it to its present standard.
Francis reiterated that the refurbished courthouse, which is on the John Compton Highway, is still being seen by his government as a temporary facility as the hall of justice building mooted by his government last year is still on the cards for construction.
“Constructing a hall of justice is still on the drawing board. There are presently tractors on the site earmarked for the hall of justice. In the meantime, the court has to function and this is why we are at this stage,” Francis said.
According to the minister, soil at the site chosen for the hall of justice building was tested last week but it is not yet known when the building will be constructed. This means that the Nyerah building will be used as a courthouse as long as government sees it as necessary, a point Francis made in a brief news conference with media personnel.
“As soon as the results come back in we will be moving forward,” Francis said in relation to the results from the testing of the soil on the site identified for construction of the hall of justice.
There are three courtrooms in the Nyerah building, all of which will be dedicated to criminal matters by the high court.
Security at the Nyerah building during court sessions will be much improved than what prevailed prior to the building’s closure for refurbishment, according to Francis.
“I cannot disclose all the security measures that we are going to put in or some of the measures that will be taken right now. I could tell you it is not going to be easy getting into this courthouse,” Francis said.
Another courthouse is set to open on Coral Street, in Castries next month, which will be a magistrate court with about four courtrooms, according to the minister.