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St Lucia police said to be still committing human rights abuses
Published on April 12, 2017 Email To Friend    Print Version

Former Member of Parliament and Cabinet minister, Richard Frederick, during his weekly television show

By Caribbean News Now contributor

CASTRIES, St Lucia -- A former Saint Lucia government minister claimed last week that officers of the Royal St Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) are still engaged in human rights abuses, despite the fact that in 2013 the United States imposed sanctions against the island’s security forces following a number of unresolved extrajudicial killings by the police.

Richard Frederick, former elected member of parliament for Castries Central and an outspoken critic of the current government, stated on his weekly television programme that, not only did Yann Gustave, a corporal with the RSLPF, wager $500 with another police officer that Frederick would be arrested, but his arrest and prosecution was specifically discussed at a regular meeting between the commissioner of police, the director of public prosecutions (DPP) and the minister of national security.

“Is it right that a minister is discussing prosecution, not in a general context but prosecution of individual persons, with the commissioner and the DPP? Doesn’t that form the platform for political interference?” Frederick asked.

After exposing Gustave on his show the previous week, he (Gustave) reportedly filed a complaint to the major crimes unit of the RSLPF against Frederick for mentioning his name, and thereby libeling him.

“He doesn’t realise libel is a civil wrong and the basis of libel is an untruth. The statement on which your whole case hinges must be an untrue statement.

“What did I say that’s untrue? That you bet $500 with another police officer that I must be arrested? That you were walking around with the criminal code showing the section? Those are facts. And the police officers are willing to jump up as soon as they are called to testify if they have to.

“So the major crime department of the RSLPF is investigating two reports against me because on that particular night I committed two major crimes on television and they have two different senior police officers investigating those two major crimes against me.

“Can you imagine taking our resources and spending our resources in pursuit of political motives? Is that right; is that fair?” Frederick said.

He pointed out that Saint Lucia has an “unprecedented level of crime in the country”.

“We are barely in the fourth month of the year and we have had 20 homicides. We are the crime capital of the OECS. Our nearest rival only has two. Tourists are being robbed in broad daylight, making us a very unsafe destination for tourism on which the country depends.

“We have so much crime to deal with and we are taking resources that could be expended to make Saint Lucia a safer destination.

“We need to stop crime, we need the efforts of all police officers in that direction but you have two senior police officers investigating me for major crimes I committed on television,” Frederick continued.

In 2013, Saint Lucia was prohibited by the terms of what is commonly referred to as the “Leahy Law” from receiving security-related assistance from the US as a result of the killing of 12 individuals by the island’s security forces in 2010 and 2011.

Although not specifically referring to the Leahy Law sanctions, Frederick highlighted their genesis by saying that “Persons who hold authority of law enforcement must understand they cannot exercise those powers with impunity.”

During a visit to Bridgetown following his election in 2016, current prime minister Allen Chastanet and his minister of national security, Hermangild Francis, paid what was described as a courtesy call on US ambassador Linda Taglialatela, ostensibly to confer regarding the ongoing imposition of sanctions under the Leahy Law and the Saint Lucia government’s ongoing failure to address the issues involved.

Following the meeting, Chastanet condemned the US government for slashing funding for security assistance in the region and contributing to regional crime by deporting criminals back to their countries of origin.

Chastanet’s claim was immediately refuted by the embassy in a strongly worded press release.

If Frederick’s assertion is accurate in relation to the meeting between the police, DPP and the national security minister, this means that entire law enforcement, administration of justice and national security apparatus in Saint Lucia remains complicit in attempted or actual ongoing abuses of individual rights in the country.
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