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Workers including prison inmates at the old San Fernando Magistrates’ Court on Harris Street, last Thursday, before the demolition of the building.

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.