As the months roll by, Saint Lucia’s list of homicide victims continues to grow. And as the years roll by, Saint Lucians have had more marches against violence than we can recall. Victim number 24 tops the list, Chereece Benoit, who was murdered in her home in Monchy on Thursday, September 12. Much like many other homicide cases for 2013, no arrests have been made in relation to 19-year-old’s Benoit’s death. And much like many of the violent crimes which get the whole nation into an uproar, several more marches again took place. The most recent was “I Stand Against…” a “silent” march organized by the National Youth Council, which took place on Wednesday, September 25 in the city of Castries. But almost as deafening as the silence of this last march, was the deafening silence of public officials on any concrete or workable solutions in the fight against crime. On the contrary, where Saint Lucia is concerned and where the rights of children are concerned, the island continue to be in contravention of many articles in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of the Child.
In many instances it is through these violations of basic human rights that our young people continue to be affected in the most vile ways, not just by the sick perpertrators but by the state itself that continues to place those issues on the back burner.
Take for instance the most recent report that cites the community of Micoud, which was once represented by “the father of the nation”, as having the highest rate of incest in the country. To date there has been no official comment from the government, neither a march, just as no one marched two decades ago when the Star highlighted the former Prime Minister’s love affair with a teenage school girl. But more on that later.
For the purposes of this article, the STAR looked at a breakdown of homicides for 2013. Information gathered showed that only in seven (7) instances out of twenty-four (24), did it appear that anyone had been arrested and charged, specifically in the cases of Danley Leon, the 25-year-old who was the first homicide victim of 2013. Tevin James, also known as Inglis from Corinth was charged for his untimely death.
Thirty-one-year-old Nathan Euriah was victim number four. He was stabbed in Grand Ravine, Dennery on February 10. Twenty-five-year-old Pecus Etienne (Peck) from Grand Ravine was arrested and charged in this instance.
On March 19, Annie Flavien Fortune from Conway died after being stabbed “below her left breast with a knife.” Philomena King from Vigie has been arrested and charged with her murder. Less than two weeks later, Reduit resident Krystal Jessica Felix lost her life after being shot multiple times at Ganters Bay, Vigie. Nathan Duncan (Q) from Conway has since been arrested and charged.
Four (4) out of the six (6)homicides that occurred in the first quarter of the year were solved. The two matters still pending, include the murder of Simone Leandra Garnier from Bisee on January 31 and the case of 19-year-old Valan Laurent from Wilton’s Yard. Leandra’s death is still under investigation, while an inquest has been requested in Laurent’s death that was a result of a police shooting.
Nine (9) cases remain under investigation from the period April 11 (Tit Wilfred, Vieux Fort) to June 6 (Kernon Diegthon, Vide Boutielle). Suspects have been identified in at least three (3) homicides during that period, notably in the cases of Kendal St Rose from Cas En Bas, Precious Ambrose of Mon Repos and Troy Charles of Gros Islet.
Three (3) of the nine (9) homicides occurring between July and September have been solved. These cases include the murder of Thomas Edward who was “tied up and beaten with a post”. Simon Joseph of Agard has been arrested and charged with his death. Eighteen-year-old Rasheidi Adolph from Marc, Bexon was arrested and charged on July 12 for the murder of 18-year-old Bexon resident Vikaysi Ange. Two suspects have been arrested and charged in the murder of Cuthbert Joseph (September, 2013).
Homicides in the latter part of 2013 to date include one police shooting; Mandy Louisy of Babonneau on August 6. Other cases that remain unsolved include that of Ronnie Walters, William Francis, Norrence Laurent (read more about Laurent’s case on the STAR website), Shem Peter and the latest victim, Chereece Benoit.
The grim number of unsolved murders leaves unanswered the question of justice for far too many victims. The current state of affairs is made worse by the fact that Saint Lucia boasts its own crime lab, an entity which to date has not received accreditation (see STAR Newspaper September 18).
In an article questioning why the crime lab remains idle, the former forensic consultant of the facility spoke about difficulties caused by lack of cooperation on the part of various entities, including the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and the police, connections that were vital for the smooth
running of the Lab. Following the Star article, the DPP came out swinging after remaining silent for years on matters pertaining to her office. (See center pages).
So how many more must die, how many marches must take place before Saint Lucians receive not justice alone, but the quality of representation and service from those who swore to serve a nation under “justice, truth, and charity,” for all?