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ERG asks ‘Who are the real victims?’

SACRAMENTO PIC

Equality Rights Group Chairman Felix Alvarez has responded to ‘an unusually lengthy press statement by Minister Sacramento regarding responses from the ‘Connected Health’ campaign on an internal Government event taking place on the question of drugs policy.

‘As an organisation, we prefer not to play victim to the gallery. Instead, we deal with facts. And the lamentable reality is that, despite Ms. Sacramento’s tone, the only real victims she is mandated to be concerned about are members of the public. And this applies not only to the question of drugs reform, but to other social problems the Minister must and does remain publicly accountable for.

‘After four long years of discussion on the necessary requirements for drug rehabilitation improvements, the Minister has still not delivered on clear and solid Manifesto commitments in this regard. Is it any wonder that anyone should react? As a Civil Society NGO, we are certainly not going to remain silent.

‘Also, after almost 6 years now, we still do not have a comprehensive disability rights law in place, despite the Minister’s electoral promises that such provisions would be in place within a first year of office. The furthest we’ve progressed on this thus far is to be told that we’re almost there with a series of disability workshops. Yet we seriously doubt whether the disabled community will be a whole lot better off at the end of the day, though we’re willing to suspend our disbelief until Ms. Sacramento finally delivers, even so belatedly.

‘And after almost 7 months since the introduction of full marriage rights for LGBT couples, those who previously entered into Civil Partnership are still unable to convert to full marriage, despite this being a clear provision in law.

‘Ms Sacramento may consider that ERG has a particular campaign against her. We remind her that our duty is to work for Civil Society and we will, Ministerial rants and tantrums aside, hold those in political power and responsibility to full account. The only victim in all this are the people who are being let down when those who are elected to represent them, for whatever reason, fail in their duty. And their voice will be heard whenever they demand, not just after 4 years.

‘In this regard, we commend the Chief Minister’s honourable and public support for his Ministerial colleague in these circumstances. It is, indeed, the right and proper thing to do. Yet from the wave of solidarity we have experienced, we also thank the public for their humbling support,’ the statement ends.