St Lucia Prime Minister Dr Kenny Anthony (L) and outgoing US Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, Dr Larry Palmer. File photo
By Caribbean News Now contributor
BRIDGETOWN, Barbados -- In an unusually forthright public statement on Tuesday, the United States Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, called on the government of Saint Lucia to ensure the rule of law is upheld.
The embassy noted that in 2014 the government of Saint Lucia invited CARICOM’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) to conduct an investigation into allegations that members of the Royal St Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) committed extra-judicial killings from 2010 to 2011.
“Unfortunately, progress on pursuing justice in these killings halted after the report’s issuance in March 2015. Despite the significance of the IMPACS report for human rights, national security concerns, and Saint Lucia’s international reputation, the government of Saint Lucia has made no meaningful progress towards criminal prosecution in ten months,” the statement read.
The embassy added that it is concerned that four years have passed since these allegations of human rights violations first surfaced and due process is yet to be served.
“We respect Saint Lucia’s separation of powers, but emphasize the entire government’s role in guaranteeing that each branch has the tools and resources to fulfill its commitments to the rule of law. That said, the director of public prosecutions made a disappointing announcement in November that her office was not provided sufficient resources or the report’s investigative files, thus precluding furthering criminal prosecution,” the statement continued.
The embassy encouraged the Saint Lucian Government to activate the promised implementation oversight committee under the prime minister’s chairmanship. Such a committee could serve to ensure that the entire government is working effectively together to achieve due process, it said.
The embassy also applauded the Saint Lucian government’s approval in September of a reformed “Use of Force” policy that guides security forces to protect both national security and human rights, and praised the participation of the RSLPF in human rights training courses.
“However, these measures alone are not sufficient for Saint Lucia to demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law,” the statement pointed out.
“The Embassy of the United States of America to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean encourages the government of Saint Lucia to take all available measures to guarantee the rule of law is upheld. We stand by our offer to assist Saint Lucia’s efforts to ensure due process in the framework of Saint Lucia’s criminal justice system. A clear demonstration of the government of Saint Lucia’s commitment to the rule of law would benefit the people of Saint Lucia as well as Saint Lucia’s international standing as a trusted, democratic partner in economic and security cooperation,” the statement concluded.