Editorial: St Lucia and the Leahy Law dilemma

It is well known that the United States suspended assistance to the Saint Lucia security forces in 2013, pursuant to the provisions of the so-called Leahy Law, as a result of credible evidence of gross human rights violations in relation to a number of alleged extra judicial killings by the police between 2010 and 2011 during an anti-crime initiative known as Operation Restore Confidence (ORC).

It is also apparent that, even after engaging the CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security to produce a comprehensive report on the matter (the IMPACS Report), successive governments in Saint Lucia have been unable to demonstrate to the satisfaction of the US State Department that credible steps have been or are being taken to bring those responsible to justice.

Since taking office in June last year, the current government has been talking about trying to resolve the issue but nothing substantive seems to have resulted. In fact, quite the opposite, with the State Department forced to deny apparently reckless local claims of promised US assistance.

In the meantime, as recently reported by local media, the lack of US-sponsored training is negatively impacting the local police, notably the Marine Unit.

As pointed out by Saint Lucian commentator Melanius Alphonse in one of his recent columns, national security minister Hermangild Francis has conceded, “St Lucia is facing an unprecedented crime wave. The police force has been neglected over the last few years and police stations are dilapidated with limited training opportunities for officers.”

This, coupled with a dysfunctional justice system and the local correctional facility operating at maximum capacity, could decimate the nation’s security and cripple efforts to revive economic growth.

According to other local sources, one of the reasons for government inaction in removing what Alphonse describes as “this albatross around the neck of all Saint Lucians” appears to be a fear of a police mutiny if…

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