French Ambassador considers treatment of remand prisoners “a shame!”

At a press conference on Thursday at the Alliance Francaise building at Pointe Seraphine an EU delegation disclosed that not only are the 28 members states committed to resolving the IMPACS scandal but they also need to be assured that Saint Lucia follows the rule of law, especially as it pertains to Human Rights and due process.

The delegation comprised Mikael Barfod, Ambassador/Head of the Delgation of the European Union to the Eastern Caribbean Countries, based in Barbados; Victoria Dean, British High Commissioner based in Barbados and Eric de La Moussaye, Ambassador of France, based in Saint Lucia. They met with the press following discussions with Prime Minister Kenny Anthony. (More on that on page 5.)

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According to Mikael Barfod, aside from the “high profile” IMPACS report, the local justice system is in dire need of an overhaul: “The criminal justice system in Saint Lucia needs to be improved. There is a current backlog of cases and too many adjournments that have resulted in long delays, no justice and a sense of impunity that is dangerous to society.”

Asked to comment on Saint Lucia’s retention of the death penalty, Barfod said: “We believe that the time is now to tackle this, even though we know that for many Caribbean countries there have not been executions. The next step is to take the death penalty off the books.” Eric de La Moussaye, Ambassador of France, was asked about his persistant calls for the government to address the situation of remand prisoners.

He revealed that there had not been a day in two years that this issue has not been of major concern. “I have had many meetings with the prime minister and with the minister of home affairs and justice,” he said. “My president has had meetings in France with the prime minister. He speaks about this problem not only for the French. I think that if we succeed on behalf of our French citizens we will succeed for others who are for many years in prison.”

He added: “We have never stopped the dialogue with the government of Saint Lucia but we respect the law. However, when there is a denial of justice where human rights are concerned, we are completely involved and I promise you we won’t continue like this without doing something more.” Presently more than half (approximately 340) of the Bordelais population is remand prisoners. The French Ambassador confirmed that there were at the correctional facility “six French nationals, one of whom has been on remand for more than four years without a trial—and that’s a shame.”

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