Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

News and Information from Gibraltar on Equality, Human, Gay and Social Rights

Monday, February 25, 2008

Industrial Tribunal concern - subtle Prisoners of Conscience categories are not acceptable

“Aspects of the manner in which the Industrial Tribunal is being run are giving us reason for serious concern,” Equality Rights Group GGR Chairman, Felix Alvarez, has today stated in a press release a day before the Joanna Hernandez case is due to be heard once again. Ms Hernandez has claimed unfair dismissal following what she alleges to be instances of mismanagement and physical and sexual abuse at the Dr Giraldi Home.

“As many will know, as a human rights organisation, GGR has closely monitored developments in the case of Ms Hernandez and will continue to do so. Whilst the case is currently still on-going, GGR has, nonetheless undertaken a preliminary but close study of aspects of the case so far. This is leading us to begin consideration as to whether steps will need to be taken by this organisation in relation to these concerns.

“In relation to this, we shall be keenly noting whether the Tribunal finally provides for Ms Hernandez to be allowed to fully present all her evidence in the form of Witnesses and their Statements which the Chairman of the Tribunal must now, in the interests of natural justice, rule on once and for all and in a manner which clearly upholds the right to a fair trial.

“In this society we do not purport to torture or imprison people for their beliefs. But those who dissent or voice their opposition to Authority may find themselves cut off from employment, face years-long technical delays in the hearing of their case, and a multitude of personal difficulties and pressures which we normally only associate with outright human rights violations.

“As Chairman of a human rights campaigning organisation,” Alvarez added, “I am in constant painful touch with and aware of the scale of human rights abuses around the world and we can be grateful that our own experience is not so extreme. However, I am not willing to merely watch while Gibraltar through default, omission or inertia, creates its own more subtle category of Prisoner of Conscience. We must serve our people with openness, justice and fairness at every turn. Anything less is unacceptable in a Democracy,” the statement ended.