By Caribbean News Now contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia -- Police in Saint Lucia have denied permission for the staging of a peaceful silent march and mini rally on human rights in memory of 22-year-old Chakadan Daniel, who was found hanging in a cell in the police station in the eastern village of Micoud. He had been arrested on charges of escaping custody, assaulting an officer and damaging property.
“The decision of the police to deny permission for this event is a blatant violation of universal human rights and guarantees assured by the constitution of our nation,” the organisers said.
This action by the police is viewed by the organising committee as a deliberate effort to frustrate organizational efforts towards the staging of a successful event that is geared towards allowing citizens to express their concerns over the upkeep and management of human rights in Saint Lucia.
The organisers asked that the following sequence of events be noted with respect to their efforts to stage the planned silent march and mini rally:
1. The Royal Saint Lucia Police Force granted permission for the staging of the silent march and mini rally on the original date of November 25, 2013 by letter of November 22, 2013, signed by Deputy Commissioner of Police, Ag Responsible for Operations and Crime.
2. The silent march and mini rally was cancelled on the scheduled date due to inclement weather.
3. The police were informed by letter of December 2, 2013, (which was hand delivered on December 3, 2013) following a weekend meeting of the organising committee of the cancellation due to inclement weather. In that letter the committee informed of the new proposed date and sought approval for same. That letter was copied to Mary Francis, coordinator, Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights Inc, and minister of legal affairs, home affairs and national security, Sen. Victor La Corbinere, among other persons.
4. Notwithstanding the fact that the original date was approved, the committee was requested to complete a new application using the prescribed form.
5. That form was completed and submitted to the police operations and crime office on Tuesday, December 3, 2013.
6. On the request of the police, the committee chairman returned to the police operations and crime office on Wednesday, December 4, 2013. The committee chairman was informed then that an appropriate route was being considered and was asked to return the following week.
7. The committee chairman returned to police operations and crime office on the morning of Monday, December 9, 2013, one day before the scheduled activity, and was asked return in the afternoon after being made complete a new form.
8. On the return of the committee chairman in the afternoon he was finally informed that permission was denied and was told: “December 17th is the date to work with”.
9. What is interesting is that even if a new date was identified by the police no approval letter was provided. In fact, the committee chairman was asked to return to the operations and crime office on Monday, 16 December, one day before the new date offered by the police.
The planning and organising committee, even if disappointed with this turn of events, said it is prepared to work with the police in staging the planned peaceful silent march and mini rally on Tuesday, 17 December 2013, and called on François and La Corbinere to use their influence to ensure the early processing of the application for the new date.
“We take comfort in the UN Declaration of Human Rights: Article 1 – Right to Equality, Article 2 – Freedom from Discrimination, Article 7 – Right to Equality before the Law; and Article 20 – Right of Peaceful Assembly and Association. Additionally we reference our efforts against the provisions of the Constitution of Saint Lucia, Chapter 1 – Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms: Clause 1 (b): freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association,” the organisers said.