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