US Government calls on St. Lucia to “uphold rule of law”

The United States, in an unusually forthright public statement has called on the government of St Lucia to ensure the rule of law is upheld.

The statement, issued on Tuesday from the US Embassy in Bridgetown, Barbados, noted that in 2014 the government of St Lucia invited CARICOM’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) to conduct an investigation into allegations that members of the Royal St Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) committed extra-judicial killings from 2010 to 2011.

“Unfortunately, progress on pursuing justice in these killings halted after the report’s issuance in March 2015. Despite the significance of the IMPACS report for human rights, national security concerns, and St Lucia’s international reputation, the government of St Lucia has made no meaningful progress towards criminal prosecution in ten months,” the statement read.

The embassy added that it is concerned that four years have passed since these allegations of human rights violations first surfaced and due process is yet to be served.

“We respect St Lucia’s separation of powers, but emphasize the entire government’s role in guaranteeing that each branch has the tools and resources to fulfill its commitments to the rule of law. That said, the director of public prosecutions made a disappointing announcement in November that her office was not provided sufficient resources or the report’s investigative files, thus precluding furthering criminal prosecution,” the statement continued.

The embassy encouraged the St Lucian Government to activate the promised implementation oversight committee under the prime minister’s chairmanship. Such a committee could serve to ensure that the entire government is working effectively together to achieve due process, it said.

The embassy also applauded the government’s approval in September of a reformed “Use of Force” policy that guides security forces to protect both national security and human rights, and praised the participation of the RSLPF in human rights training courses.

“However, these measures alone are not sufficient for St Lucia to demonstrate its commitment to the rule of law,” the statement pointed out.

“The Embassy of the United States of America to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean encourages the government of St Lucia to take all available measures to guarantee the rule of law is upheld. We stand by our offer to assist St Lucia’s efforts to ensure due process in the framework of St Lucia’s criminal justice system. A clear demonstration of the government of St Lucia’s commitment to the rule of law would benefit the people of St Lucia as well as St Lucia’s international standing as a trusted, democratic partner in economic and security cooperation,” the statement concluded.

The statement was issued just ahead of a meeting scheduled for Thursday of European Ambassadors with Prime Minister Kenny Anthony to primarily discuss government’s plans to deal with the IMPACS issue.

In December last year the EU representative wrote to the Prime Minister seeking clarification on the IMPACS report, calling on those responsible to ensure due process according to the St.Lucia’s Criminal law. But there has since been no known response from the Kenny Anthony administration.

Antigua Observer