Deputy Police Commissioner Pancras Albert (L) and Commissioner Vernon Francois
By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- In a report characterised as “US strikes again”, local media reported that another senior police officer in Saint Lucia was prevented on Wednesday from boarding a flight to a US destination.
The incident occurred at the George Charles airport in Saint Lucia on Wednesday morning when deputy commissioner of police Pancras Albert attempted to board a LIAT flight to St Croix in the US Virgin Islands. He reportedly vacationed in the US twice last year.
Senator Philip Victor La Corbiniere, minister for legal affairs, home affair and national security, has so far declined to comment on the matter.
The latest incident follows a similar one that occurred last year at Hewanorra International Airport, when police commissioner Vernon Francois was not permitted to board a flight to participate in US organized and financed training programmes.
Prime Minister Kenny Anthony subsequently confirmed that this resulted from a suspension by the US of all assistance to the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, contrary to an initial claim by Francois that it was a “ticketing issue”.
Saint Lucia is currently prohibited by the terms of what is commonly referred to as the “Leahy Law” from receiving security-related assistance from the US.
The so-called Leahy Law, named after its principal sponsor, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, is a US human rights law that prohibits assistance to any unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of State has credible information that such unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.
Saint Lucia thus joined Bolivia, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico, Nigeria, Turkey, Indonesia, and Pakistan, whose security forces have been denied assistance by virtue of the Leahy Law.
Although Anthony has claimed that the prohibition under the Leahy Law is grounded in the killing of 12 individuals by security forces in Saint Lucia in 2010 and 2011; however, there are indications that this may not be the full extent of the problem.
In particular, the action taken against Saint Lucia by the US under the Leahy Law could be connected to the circumstances surrounding the revocation in 2011 of the diplomatic and non-immigrant visas of former housing minister Richard Frederick, alleged to have been fraudulently procured by St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) activists.
According to Frederick’s US lawyer, Joe DiGenova, he has never seen anything like this in his 40 years of practicing law.
“It is abundantly clear that false information was provided to harm Richard Frederick and certain individuals violated US law by providing such false information,” DiGenova said last year.
It is understood that a major new development in the Frederick matter is expected shortly.