Monday, 14 November 2011

Is this justice, Mr Feetham?

I have commented in the past of what I call the “injustice” system in Gibraltar regarding the difficulties and obstructive tactics a citizen can face when getting embroiled in our legal process against a government body.

We are constantly told how wonderful everything is and I wonder if Mr D Feetham during his time as Minister for Justice, or Injustice as I see it, can honestly feel satisfaction with the way things really have been during his term of office.

Firstly in Gibraltar we seem to have a bad habit of not answering or acknowledging correspondence but from what I see I am in good company judging by the many citizens, opposition members, citizens’ groups etc... who have encountered the same difficulties, a wall of silence.

In our legal system there is a huge gap between those who can and those who cannot afford justice which in effect excludes the majority from getting justice. For example to qualify for legal aid the income taken into account is so risible that only a handful would qualify. Then there is the Small Claims Court that handles claims under £10,000. Therefore if your claim exceeds that amount you will end up in the Supreme Court for a relatively small claim, and you will be hard pressed to find a lawyer who would consider it worthwhile to spend much time over a case where the legal fees will exceed the claim, but there are exceptions.

So if you decide to take legal action, from experience it seems to me that all a defendant needs to do is ignore you and the court.

That a defendant is allowed to take years to produce witness statements is perplexing and that a defendant ignores court orders is also perplexing and that so much leeway is given for this situation to continue. No wonder some cases take forever to finalize and during all this time the legal fees increase whilst a defendant does not react to correspondence or court orders. A ploy for anyone to abandon a claim because the system allows it.

Is there anywhere a citizen can address a complaint about this chain of events? No!

The legal system in Gibraltar seems to be designed to frustrate and deter so that you abandon a claim, rather than enable you to seek justice, with outdated laws and no safety nets or independent bodies for citizens to fall back on.

No one can expect for there to be an ombudsman or body to defend the interests of each and every eventuality a citizen might encounter, but what is annoying is to hear is that we are like the UK and how proud we should be of this and that when it is just not true.

Therefore I am glad to hear that the GSLP/Libs is going to reinstate the ombudsman for the health services - a step in the right direction and no doubt avoid small claims of the nature I am referring to from having to end up in a Supreme Court.

Mr Feetham, that the party you belong to should call itself Gibraltar Social DEMOCRATS???

I beg to differ.

Citizens are being blocked and frustrated at every corner.

Isabella Caruana

Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Govt accused of ‘threats and bullying tactics’ over the launch of a book by the heritage trust


Something as simple as the launching of a book by the Gibraltar Heritage Trust has erupted into a major row with accusations flying about of 'threats and bullying tactics' by the Government.

It was 5.15pm last Wednesday when the Minister for Culture Edwin Reyes made a telephone call to the heritage trust, saying he was "very unhappy."

He raised a number of points such as that he felt he had been sidelined for this event, and furthermore, he stated that he felt that "government in general feels under-appreciated by the GHT, particularly in the last six months."

In fact, the minister went on to suggest that he would not be happy to allow the book launch at the Garrison Library with the present arrangements in place.

The GHT could forget about having any say in the running of the Garrison Library in the future.

He also repeatedly suggested that "the GHT's grant might be reviewed by the Chief Minister in a less favourable light in the near future."

The minister also alleged that he is still waiting for an apology over another row.

The current heated differences revolve around the intention of the heritage trust to have the Mayor Julio Alcantara launch the book.

Members of the trust are upset about the minister: "We cannot allow him to constantly threaten us, it is not the first time he has suggested cutting our funding."

Said another: "I don't like the bullying tactics they use constantly and its wearing a bit thin...Does he really want the Trust to stand up in public just before an election and let the electorate know his threats to the Trust?"

It was being suggested that they should forget about the Mayor and to ask the Governor, as Patron, to host the launch at the Convent. They could also launch it in their offices.

The idea of the Governor, as their Patron, launching the book was gaining weight.

It was mid-morning the next day when Mario Mosquera, the chairman of the heritage trust, stepped in and his decision was announced: That the Minister should launch the book from the Garrison Library. The Governor has written the foreword of the book as Patron, and having the Minister launching it "will provide the balance."

It was recalled that the Trust had tried hard over the last couple of years to heal the relationship between the Gibraltar Government and the Museum - and the Trust's chairman felt that "a squabble over the launch of the book is not the direction we want to head in."

Thursday, 3 November 2011

Gibraltar election

And so, the election will be on 8 December. Already a surprise, that the ruling GSD have ousted Fabian Vinet from their new list of candidates - yet, he came second in the last general election in 2007. Why replace a popular candidate by unknown quantities? Ask Peter!