PHILIPSBURG–The pro-bono lawyers who have been on strike since May 18 due to non-payment of fees due to them discontinued their strike on Monday. St. Maarten Bar Association Criminal Lawyers Section Chairman Cor Merx confirmed the action by sending a letter to the Justice Ministry, police station, Prosecutor’s Office and Court of First Instance.
The lawyers did receive a payment towards the debt accumulated by government, but not the full amount.
“The strike was never politically motivated. It had to do with government keeping to the promises they made to us. We stopped the action in the best interest of the country. The people deserve to be represented if they have no funds to represent themselves. After careful consideration, the lawyers involved in the strike came to a consensus to stop the strike and get back to work, since government did pay the majority of the monies owed,” stated Merx on Monday.
Pro-bono lawyers give criminal suspects who cannot afford a lawyer free-of-charge legal assistance during the handling of their cases. The bill is paid by government. The outstanding fees dated back to January.
Merx added that he is closely monitoring government’s payment method and if payments start to get backed up again, the lawyers will restart their industrial action. “We need government to be accountable and we hope they continue to clear up this unfortunate debt,” he said.
Ten lawyers perform pro-bono work for persons who are not able to afford a lawyer when detained.
Bron: Daily Herald