The Royal Saint Lucia Police Force is reeling from a decision by the United States government to suspend all assistance under the regional CBI program. In August 2013 the island’s prime minister officially acknowledged the US State Department decision as a consequence of what it considered serious human rights violations by local cops.
In a TV speech entitled “An Unhappy Episode,” the prime minister promised immediate action, including the setting up of a team of Jamaican police investigators, through CARICOM’s Implementation Agency for Crime and Security. Among other incidents, the investigators were expected to look into the 2011 fatal police shooting of five citizens in Vieux Fort, the prime minister’s constituency. He also promised new legislation by which to address extra-judicial police killings.
Since then, there has been no official word regarding the IMPACS report, expected last February. What is known, however, is that the US continues to penalize the local police, many of whom have been denied training opportunities in the US, including police chief Vernon Francois. The police have also been barred from attending regional training exercises sponsored by the US, including those held in Saint Lucia. The US visas of several police officers have also either been revoked or denied.
With rising violent crime on the island, as well as several homicides at the hands of the police, there continue to be calls for more police training. The commissioner himself has acknowledged that his force is greatly hampered by the withdrawal of US funds under the Leahy arrangements. Now the word is that the British government, too, may be unhappy with Dr. Anthony.
At a press conference last Wednesday, Helen Gobat, mother of murdered 38-year-old Oliver Gobat, disclosed that the Kenny Anthony government had sought assistance from the UK in solving the case but “that seems to have been blocked.”
She revealed that the family had hired a private forensic team to assist in solving her son’s murder. By his family’s account, Ollie Gobat was shot then set on fire in his vehicle at a remote spot at Cap Estate. I spoke with a British journalist last week who revealed that the UK’s refusal to assist was linked to the island’s retention of the death penalty.
In 2011 the UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron had also threatened to withhold aid from countries where homosexuality is illegal. Saint Lucia is among such nations.