Chairman of the Equal Opportunity Tribunal Judge Donna Prowell-Raphael has called for reforms to give citizens direct access to the tribunal in emergencies.

In a televised address to mark the opening of the 2020/2021 Law Term, yesterday afternoon, Prowell-Raphael suggested the current system, which requires complaints to be investigated by the Equal Opportunity Commission before being forwarded to it, is time-consuming and self-defeating in some cases.

“The potential for protracted delays between the occurrence of a grievance and its resolution undermines public confidence in the system. Justice delayed may be justice denied,” Prowell-Raphael said.

She noted that the tribunal had been fulfilling its mandate by educating citizens about their rights and the services offered by the tribunal.

Stating that the tribunal is the only non-discrimination court in the English-speaking Caribbean, Prowell-Raphael said that it had already moved to hold virtual hearings during the COVID-19 pandemic.

She said through work with IgovTT the tribunal should have its electronic filing system and live broadcasts of its hearings by next year.

However, she noted that the commission would continue to maintain a walk-in registry to facilitate easy access by citizens.

Referencing global concern over discrimination and injustice, Prowell-Raphael noted that citizens enjoy the protection of both the Constitution and the Equal Opportunity Act.

“The tribunal gives the assurance that it is striving tirelessly to provide the society with a forum where individuals can have their complaints of discrimination, victimisation, and offensive behaviour that are within the Tribunal’s remit, expeditiously and judiciously adjudicated,” she said, as she noted that the tribunal was celebrating the 10 year anniversary of its first complaint during this law term.