The Judiciary is proceeding with the demolition of the old magistrates’ court building in San Fernando with the assistance of prison inmates.
Last week several inmates were seen erecting a fence around the perimeter of the building.
A section of Harris Street which runs between the old building and the San Fernando High Court has also been blocked off to vehicular traffic.
An email from the Judiciary’s Court Protocol & Information Manager Carl Francis stated, “The Judiciary is through the Prison Inmates Programme addressing, in conjunction with the Ministry of Works, the hoarding of the area occupied by the old San Fernando Magistrates Court with a view to ensuring public safety and proceeding with its demolition once the final permits are received.”
It added, “It has always been common practice to engage prisoners to undertake work for the State in public spaces as afforded by law. It is actually part of a programme by which prisoners learn new skills, as they serve time with hard labour, as part of their rehabilitation.”
The Judiciary further stated that it has engaged the National Centre for Persons with Disability to provide food for prisoners working on the building. The hoarding work is expected to be completed within two to three weeks, Carnival Days and the aftermath excluded.
The Judiciary will also be seeking approval to expand the High Court to where the old magistrates’ court building is located.
The Judiciary further stated that it is also actively pursuing the construction of the new Magistrates Court and a Family Court.
The old court was “temporarily” closed in September 2017 and the five courts were relocated to the Madinah Building and the San Fernando High Court, for a month to facilitate urgent ceiling repairs and asbestos cleaning.
The Judiciary then extended the closure to November 13, 2017, but noted that even after the roof repairs were completed minor works would still have to be done inside the building.
The five courts from the old court have since been relocated to the High Court on the shift system which remains in effect.
Works started on the building, but then stopped.
The building has since deteriorated significantly.