MORE HUMAN RIGHTS HEAT FOR ST. LUCIA:
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!