Saint Lu­cia: The Land of Missing the Point

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

Two weeks ago the an­nounced that the Jus­tice for Roger Cam­paign was about to make one more play for jus­tice. Af­ter Mar­garet Pratt's pub­lic let­ter to the Direc­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP), Daarsrean Greene, fell on deaf ears, Mar­garet re­sorted to think­ing of other ways to get a re­sponse. In the Au­gust 19th, 2017 is­sue of the STAR, it was re­ported that Mar­garet and some other vic­tims of crime in Saint Lu­cia had de­cided to come to­gether to let their voices be heard.

A few days af­ter our story was pub­lished, Mar­garet's cam­paign, Jus­tice for Roger, re­leased a video of three women speak­ing about their ex­pe­ri­ence with the Saint Lucian Jus­tice sys­tem. In less than a week the video had been viewed over 100,000 times on Face­book, and shared over a thou­sand times. Ac­cord­ing to Mar­garet Pratt's cam­paign man­ager, the re­ac­tion from the in­ter­na­tional pub­lic is not sur­pris­ing.

In the video Mar­garet Pratt, Anne Pear­son and Georgina Mor­timer ex­pressed their frus­tra­tion and the state of obliv­ion in which they re­main be­cause of lack of com­mu­ni­ca­tion from the Crown Pros­e­cu­tion Ser­vice. They also voiced con­cerns about the amount of crime on the is­land, and the fact that noth­ing is be­ing done to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion by the rel­e­vant au­thor­i­ties.

Con­trary to the per­cep­tion of some view­ers that the video was cre­ated with a mo­tive of tar­nish­ing the rep­u­ta­tion of the is­land, Georgina Mor­timer stated, “The last thing I want to do is ma­lign the gen­eral pop­u­la­tion of Saint Lu­cia be­cause I was treated very kindly, for ex­am­ple by the staff at the hos­pi­tal who had dealt with me af­ter I'd been [sex­u­ally] as­saulted. But th­ese peo­ple have been pro­foundly let down by their po­lice, by their ju­di­cial sys­tem and I think that that's very wrong also.”

Far from the ob­jec­tive of the three women, the video also met ac­cu­sa­tions of racism, with some view­ers go­ing so far as call­ing on the is­land's prime min­is­ter to take the video down.

The historical sig­nif­i­cance of Saint Lu­cia's col­o­niza­tion was brought into fo­cus, with oth­ers blam­ing the era of slav­ery for the fact that the coun­try was still suf­fer­ing from dys­func­tional sys­tems and struc­tures: “I am very, very sorry th­ese women are hurt­ing but let's be hon­est folks, Eng­land has to be blamed for the is­lands be­ing the way they are,” a woman wrote. “Af­ter years of colo­nial­ism they had to gain in­de­pen­dence so that life could be bet­ter for the peo­ple. So please be pa­tient with us as we try to be a bet­ter peo­ple af­ter years of noth­ing but God save our gra­cious queen. I pray that you guys get jus­tice, God bless.”

The com­ments were not com­plete with­out the most pop­u­lar sen­ti­ment: “Crime hap­pens every­where, don't make Saint Lu­cia look like a bad place."

The Jus­tice for Roger Cam­paign is­sued an ar­ti­cle on Au­gust 25th, 2017 in re­sponse to the com­ments. It stated, “To those in St Lu­cia that have crit­i­cized us on­line, we say that we didn't pub­lish this film lightly. It was done as a re­sult of years of frus­tra­tion with a jus­tice sys­tem that moves pon­der­ously slowly and con­sis­tently fails to en­gage with vic­tims. We have no de­sire to harm the tourist trade, but to en­sure those con­tem­plat­ing a trip to St Lu­cia are aware it has a dan­ger­ous side – in­clud­ing one of the high­est homi­cide rates in the world – and that it is pos­si­ble they'll be left high and dry if some­thing bad hap­pens to them.”

Shortly af­ter the video was made pub­lic, Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of the Saint Lu­cia Ho­tel and Tourism As­so­ci­a­tion, Noorani Azeez, made a pub­lic state­ment on the St. Lu­cia Times in­di­cat­ing that the is­land's tourist mar­ket would suf­fer if Saint Lu­cia fails to deal with the is­sue of crime and poor ex­e­cu­tion of jus­tice. The ar­ti­cle quoted from Azeez: “As a coun­try – as a peo­ple we have got to do what we can to be vig­i­lant and ad­dress th­ese is­sues. But you know, it is one thing to talk the talk but it is an­other thing to walk the walk.”

At press time, Direc­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions Daarsrean Greene was out of state and, once more, was un­avail­able to com­ment.

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