The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By

Rick Wayne

The US State De­part­ment’s Country Re­port and Hu­man Rights Prac­tices for 2015 has spilled more dirt on this na­tion’s Hu­man Rights im­age. It be­gins as fol­lows: “Saint Lucia is a mul­ti­party, par­lia­men­tary democ­racy. In gen­er­ally free and fair elec­tions, the Saint Lucia Labour Party won eleven of the seven­teen seats in the House of Assem­bly, de­feat­ing the pre­vi­ously rul­ing United Work­ers Party. SLP leader Kenny An­thony be­came prime min­is­ter. Civil­ian au­thor­i­ties main­tained ef­fec­tive con­trol over the se­cu­rity forces.

“The most se­ri­ous hu­man rights prob­lems in­cluded long de­lays in in­ves­ti­gat­ing re­ports of un­law­ful killings, abuse of sus­pects and killings by the po­lice, and con­tin­ued post­pone­ments of tri­als and sen­tenc­ing. Other hu­man rights prob­lems in­cluded vi­o­lence against women, child abuse, and dis­crim­i­na­tion against per­sons based on their real or per­ceived sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion or gen­der iden­tity. Although the govern­ment took limited steps to prose­cute of­fi­cials and em­ploy­ees who com­mit­ted abuses, the pro­ce­dure for in­ves­ti­gat­ing po­lice of­fi­cers was lengthy, cum­ber­some and in­con­clu­sive.

“Coro­ners’ in­quests were held in all seven in­stances of fa­tal po­lice shoot­ings in ac­cor­dance with the Coro­ner’s Act of Saint Lucia. In five cases the coro­ner found the shoot­ing was ‘law­ful killing”; the coro­ner found one case to be an ‘un­law­ful killing”; and one case is still un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion at year’s end. The of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions cited se­vere short­age of staff as the rea­son for not yet mak­ing a de­ci­sion to in­dict in the ‘un­law­ful killing’ case.

“Through the CARICOM Im­ple­men­ta­tion Agency for Crime and Se­cu­rity (IMPACS), the govern­ment en­gaged a team of in­ves­ti­ga­tors from the Ja­maican Con­stab­u­lary Force to in­ves­ti­gate all in­stances of al­leged ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings by mem­bers of the Royal Saint Lucia Po­lice Force that re­sulted from ‘Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence’ in 2010 and 2011. The in­vestors com­pleted the re­port but it has not been made pub­lic. In March the prime min­is­ter de­clared the re­port of the in­ves­ti­ga­tors is ‘ex­tremely damn­ing’ and ‘brings home the ex­treme grav­ity of this mat­ter’ but added it is for the DPP to de­ter­mine if any­one will be pros­e­cuted. At year’s end the DPP had not be­gun any pros­e­cu­tions of the of­fi­cers im­pli­cated in the op­er­a­tion.”

More on the De­part­ment of State’s re­port next week.

Ac­cord­ing to re­li­able sources po­lice of­fi­cers who were part of Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence were warned by the Act­ing Po­lice Com­mis­sioner on Wed­nes­day to “pre­pare for the worst”. By in­formed ac­count the of­fi­cers took that to mean “they can ex­pect to be ar­rested and charged at any mo­ment”. Ac­cord­ing to my source “most of them have been wor­ry­ing where they will get bail money”. Mean­while the long sus­pended in­quest into the five fa­tal shoot­ings by po­lice re­sumed on Wed­nes­day but was ad­journed to April 27.

Asked my source rhetor­i­cally: “The big ques­tion is: How can they get a fair hear­ing af­ter all that talk on TV by the prime min­is­ter about staged con­fronta­tions and planted weapons?”

Act­ing po­lice chief Sev­erin Monch­ery: His meet­ing with mem­bers of Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence on Wed­nes­day con­trib­uted yet an­other con­tro­ver­sial chap­ter to the IMPACS saga!

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