Of­fice of the DPP and RSLPF High Com­mand - Cau­tion to Media Fra­ter­nity

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

The Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Public Pros­e­cu­tions, along with the High Com­mand of the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force, has ex­pressed con­cern with re­gards to the lo­cal media’s ap­proach to the cov­er­age of mat­ters which are be­fore the courts.

The media fra­ter­nity is there­fore be­ing called upon to ex­er­cise cau­tion in in­ter­view­ing and dis­play­ing the im­ages of po­ten­tial wit­nesses who may be on scenes of crime and/ or in­volved in on­go­ing po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

It is a con­tempt of court un­der sec­tion 380 (1) (g) “to pub­lish any mat­ter which is in­tended to or is likely to prej­u­dice the fair trial or con­duct of crim­i­nal pro­ceed­ings” and (h) “to pub­lish any mat­ter which pre­judges is­sues which are to be tried or are be­ing tried by the court”.

The co-op­er­a­tion of the media fra­ter­nity will be greatly ap­pre­ci­ated.

In to­day’s world it is a sad re­al­ity that per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties of­ten live on the mar­gins of so­ci­ety, de­prived of life’s fun­da­men­tal ex­pe­ri­ences. They have lit­tle or no hope of go­ing to school, get­ting a job, cre­at­ing a fam­ily, so­cial­iz­ing or vot­ing. Per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties make up the world’s largest dis­ad­van­taged mi­nor­ity. Here in St. Lu­cia there are no ac­ces­si­ble schools des­ig­nated for chil­dren with Cere­bral Palsy (CP) and no proper ac­com­mo­dat­ing health care for dis­abled per­sons. Even cur­rent reg­u­la­tions de­signed to ac­com­mo­date per­sons with dis­abil­i­ties are not reg­u­lated and reap no con­se­quences when not ad­hered to. For ex­am­ple, there are park­ing spa­ces des­ig­nated for hand­i­capped per­sons yet able-bod­ied cit­i­zens take these spa­ces.

CP is an um­brella term that refers to a group of dis­or­ders af­fect­ing a per­son’s abil­ity to move. It is a per­ma­nent life-long con­di­tion, but gen­er­ally does not worsen over time. CP af­fects peo­ple in dif­fer­ent ways and can af­fect body move­ment, mus­cle con­trol, mus­cle co­or­di­na­tion, mus­cle tone, re­flex, pos­ture and bal­ance. Peo­ple who have CP may also have vis­ual, learn­ing, hear­ing, speech, epilepsy and in­tel­lec­tual im­pair­ments.

What hap­pens to chil­dren with CP af­ter preschool? Where do they go from there? Are they ex­pected to stay home? There is ab­so­lutely noth­ing in place for these chil­dren. All chil­dren should have a right to learn and a right to an ed­u­ca­tion. Chil­dren with CP may ex­pe­ri­ence spe­cific learn­ing dif­fi­cul­ties, which may in­clude a short at­ten­tion span, mo­tor plan­ning dif­fi­cul­ties per­cep­tual dif­fi­cul­ties and lan­guage dif­fi­cul­ties. With proper in­struc­tion and ac­com­mo­da­tions they are able to learn, lis­ten and the fully un­der­stand ev­ery­thing tak­ing place around them. As a so­ci­ety, we must sup­port the cre­ation of these op­por­tu­ni­ties. Terms such as ‘re­tarded’, ‘gorger’ and many other deroga­tory terms need to be ad­dressed and not tol­er­ated.

As par­ents, our great­est wish for our chil­dren is their in­de­pen­dence and that one day they will be ac­cepted by so­ci­ety. St. Lu­cia still has a long way to go in the sup­port of dis­abled peo­ple; how­ever, there has been a com­mend­able start. Par­ents now re­ceive a $200 grant from the gov­ern­ment in the sup­port of chil­dren with mod­er­ate to se­vere dis­abil­i­ties. This has helped in de­fray­ing some of the cost for weekly ther­apy ses­sions and med­i­cal care.

We must ed­u­cate the public to re­duce the amount of ig­no­rance to­wards per­sons with a dis­abil­ity and move to­wards a more ac­cept­ing so­ci­ety. We need to stand up for chil­dren suf­fer­ing with dis­abil­i­ties. Let’s work to­gether to en­sure that they are able to at­tend a school, re­ceive an ed­u­ca­tion and be­come part of an ac­cept­ing so­ci­ety. Too many chil­dren are be­ing left home be­cause there isn’t a fa­cil­ity or a school that will ac­cept them due to their dis­abil­i­ties. We also need an ac­ces­si­ble Spe­cial Ed­u­ca­tion school with trained teach­ers. My hope is to one day see these chil­dren thriv­ing in a pos­i­tive and in­ter­ac­tive learn­ing en­vi­ron­ment. My vi­sion is to see an ac­ces­si­ble ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in place for chil­dren with phys­i­cal dis­abil­i­ties so they too can ex­pe­ri­ence the right to learn and grow. Crys­tal Leanne Louis is the Deputy Sec­re­tary of the Cere­bral Palsy As­so­ci­a­tion, Saint Lu­cia

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