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US embassy calls on St Lucia to uphold the rule of law
Published on January 13, 2016 Email To Friend    Print Version

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.
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Paco Smith:

I find this rather ironic, in that across the length and breadth of the USA, many young people of colour, (mostly but not exclusively black men) are being callously murdered by those who have sworn to uphold the law and despite cries from all corners, for the justice system to do the right thing, substantive change has been ever-so-slow, if not nonexistent.

Given that backdrop, the US Embassy is calling for a sovereign nation-state to uphold, "the rule of law". Although not surprising, it remains rather poignant for such a call to be made, particularly when one's own closet has many a skeleton within.

One is left but to deduce that the orientation and subsequent perspective of the powers that be, who made a such call, is steeped in the notion of "do as I say, not as I do". That is, indeed, disparaging.

For certain there exists a number of contributing factors which have resulted in such a brazen stance. Chief among them is a misguided sense of supremacy which is deeply rooted in an inequitable justice system, that truly is not colour-blind.

Undoubtedly, I am all for adherence to "the Rule of Law", but it must be applied equally, across the exceptions!

For those who will claim that neither colour, nor race has anything to do with it, I shall leave you with the following observation.

In effect, for the US Embassy to do such a thing, is tantamount to say, toilet calling the basin, "white". Of course this applies to appliances which are devoid of colour. (Note, I did not use the traditionally race-laden expression which compares a kettle to a pot and asserts the negative connotation regarding the word "black".

On a final note, I presume many acknowledge that the international political economy is set by the more developed nations. Yet, have you ever stopped to wonder if the expanse of developing nations were to disseminate a parallel to that which the US State Department puts out concerning Travel Advisories?

Just think about it, with all the unlawful murders of innocent people of colour, throughout the US...daily, at the hands of the authorities, I dare say it would be a rather foreboding realisation. It might even discourage some, from visiting the USA.

Just some food for thought.

C. ben-David:

Dear Paco Smith, the underlying thrust of your comment is that these extra-judicial killings should go unpunished. Here are the reasons why.

Does the United States have a perfect system of colour-blind justice? Of course not. But it still has a far better and fairer criminal justice system than any country in the Caribbean.

The US Embassy's comment that, “We respect Saint Lucia’s separation of powers" is particularly laughable given that there is no separation of powers in St. Lucia and most other Caribbean countries.

The truth is that the government of St. Lucia does not want to see any of its police officers and their political handlers charged and convicted for the murder of the criminal thugs they hunted down and killed and will do whatever it takes to make sure this does not happen.

This used to be the case all the time in the United States before the civil rights movement and tough laws put an end to most of the abuses. Some still happen, of course, but police are charged, convicted, and imprisoned all the time for abusing their authority. Not so in most of the Caribbean.

Even assuming you are correct about a double standard, are you asserting that two wrongs -- theirs and ours -- make a right?

Of course you do when you say, "Undoubtedly, I am all for adherence to 'the Rule of Law', but it must be applied equally, across the exceptions!"

Translation: if the rule of law is not applied in the US, as you assert, this means it should also not be applied in St. Lucia.

So let's just leave the police kill all the bad guys and, of course, a few good guys who they might mistakenly think are bad guys ("Sorry I filled you full of lead but I thought you were a bad guy.") and just shrug our shoulders and say, "well, bad stuff happens all over the world." Right?


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