Al­leged Ex­tra-ju­di­cial Killings in St Lu­cia must be In­ves­ti­gated, says US

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The al­le­ga­tions of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings com­mit­ted by mem­bers of the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force (RSLPF) should be prop­erly in­ves­ti­gated, and any per­pe­tra­tors should be pros­e­cuted and, if found guilty, sen­tenced ap­pro­pri­ately, the U.S. State Depart­ment re­it­er­ated on Wed­nes­day.

“We will reg­u­larly re­view Saint Lu­cia’s progress to­ward bring­ing those re­spon­si­ble to jus­tice and en­cour­age the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia and its po­lice force to be ac­count­able and trans­par­ent to their cit­i­zens,” a State Depart­ment spokesper­son told Caribbean News Now.

As a re­sult of the al­leged ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings by the RSLPF and an on­go­ing fail­ure on the part of the gov­ern­ment to bring those re­spon­si­ble to jus­tice, Saint Lu­cia is cur­rently sub­ject to sanc­tions im­posed by the United States pur­suant to the pro­vi­sions of the so­called Leahy Amend­ment to the For­eign As­sis­tance Act of 1961, which states, “No as­sis­tance shall be fur­nished un­der this Act or the Arms Ex­port Con­trol Act to any unit of the se­cu­rity forces of a for­eign coun­try if the Sec­re­tary of State has cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion that such unit has com­mit­ted a gross vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights.”

The killings took place in 2010 and 2011 dur­ing a se­cu­rity ini­tia­tive called Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence (ORC), which was aimed at re­duc­ing vi­o­lent crime. At the time, then prime min­is­ter Stephen­son King is­sued a pub­lic warn­ing to crim­i­nals that “there will be no refuge, no stone will be left un­turned and there will be no hid­ing place for any­one”.

In a press state­ment in July, the United States made it clear to the new gov­ern­ment in Saint Lu­cia that the on­go­ing fail­ure to bring to jus­tice those re­spon­si­ble within the lo­cal po­lice force for gross vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights pre­vents the US from re­con­sid­er­ing the sanc­tions im­posed on the RSLPF un­der the Leahy Law.

“We have made it clear to the cur­rent Saint Lu­cian ad­min­is­tra­tion and prior ad­min­is­tra­tions that the gov­ern­ment of Saint Lu­cia’s fail­ure to bring to jus­tice those re­spon­si­ble within the RSLPF for gross vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights through cred­i­ble ju­di­cial pro­cesses and pros­e­cu­tions, where ap­pro­pri­ate, pre­vents the United States from re­con­sid­er­ing the sus­pen­sion of as­sis­tance to the RSLPF,” a State Depart­ment of­fi­cial said.

The most re­cent State Depart­ment com­ment on Wed­nes­day re­states and re­in­forces the U.S. ap­proach to the is­sue.

In the mean­time, the newly ap­pointed na­tional se­cu­rity min­is­ter, Her­mangild Fran­cis, has an­nounced that, as part of ef­forts to re­form polic­ing in Saint Lu­cia, the new gov­ern­ment has plans to es­tab­lish a bor­der pa­trol agency, some­thing that he said is des­per­ately needed.

Ac­cord­ing to lo­cal me­dia, Fran­cis claimed, “if the marine unit did not fall un­der the po­lice force, they would have still been re­ceiv­ing as­sis­tance from the United States gov­ern­ment.”

Asked about the fac­tual ba­sis for the min­is­ter’s claim, the State Depart­ment re­sponded that the U.S. does not pro­vide as­sis­tance to any se­cu­rity force unit where it has cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion that the unit com­mit­ted a gross vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights.

“If this is a new unit out­side of the Saint Lu­cia po­lice force, it would still be sub­ject to Leahy re­quire­ments, like any se­cu­rity force unit, be­fore it would be el­i­gi­ble for se­cu­rity as­sis­tance,” the State Depart­ment spokesper­son said.

An­other U.S. gov­ern­ment source noted separately that any such marine unit would still be con­sid­ered part of the se­cu­rity ap­pa­ra­tus of the coun­try and there­fore re­main sub­ject to Leahy Law sanc­tions.

Na­tional Se­cu­rity Min­is­ter, Her­mangild Fran­cis.

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