Two days after Valentine’s Day it would appear that love was still in the air this week, at least for police commissioner Vernon Francois and STAR Person of the Year, lawyer Mary Francis. Francois has reached out to Francis to assist the RSLPF in its ongoing course on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, according to a release from the RSLPF.
Francis told the STAR Tuesday that she had accepted the invitation in principle. “Well, I got a call sometime last week informing me of the training but I still do not have the details about the workshop,” she says.
So is this all water under the bridge? “Well, I had a meeting with the police commissioner in January to obtain some answers and to try to get the names of the officers involved in the Mandy shooting in Babonneau. While I did not get the information I was looking for the meeting was very cordial,” Francis says. “I have no issues with the police and I have never had. What I have issues with is the way in which matters are handled in this country, whether by police officers, politicians or citizens. We are governed by laws and we should always strive to abide by these,” she went on.
At a police meeting back in 2012, commissioner Vernon Francois had told his officers that they should not be afraid of “the Mary Francises of this world.” He reassured them that as long as they did their jobs within the law, he would stand with them. The commissioner accused Francis of bullying the police, telling officers there was “no need to worry about her” because the majority of Saint Lucians supported the police.
“He kept saying don’t worry about her, we won’t lie down and let Mary Francis roll over the police, don’t mind her. I find it scandalous,” Francis told the STAR in 2012 following the remarks calling them “reprehensible” and “uncalled for.” “I think it was an attempt to malign me and intimidate me for persistently calling for Inquests in the twelve police killings. I have never once referred to the commissioner in his personal capacity, I always speak to the office of the commissioner,” she went on to explain. The outspoken lawyer referred the matter to international human rights organizations.
This week Mary Francis says she has no personal issues with the police. “There is no need for there to be any confrontation between the police and people like myself and the work that we do,” Francis told the STAR Tuesday.
According to a statement from the RSLPF on Monday, Francis has graciously agreed to make presentations to three groups, which will benefit from her training. Superintendent Severin Monchery, officer responsible for training believes that in fighting crime and social disorders, law enforcement agencies should have checks and balances.
The RSLPF is of the view that police and human rights advocates can co-exist, once each other knows their roles and responsibilities. “The police look forward to working closely with human rights advocates in the community as they are part of the checks and balances in society,” the statement ended by saying.