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Opposition Raises Civil Rights Concerns During Debate On New Police Powers Bill

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Asserting that the United Workers Party (UWP) did not oppose the Suppression of Escalated Crime Police Powers bill, opposition leader Allen Chastanet raised civil rights concerns on Thursday night, referring to specific aspects of the legislation.

“We are significantly empowering the lower ranks of the police force and using an area to give them those special conditions,” he stated.

Quoting from the bill, Chastanet observed that a police officer who has reason to believe that a criminal offence was committed, is likely to be committed or is being committed on land or in a building within an escalated crime area could access the land or building, enter or remain there for a period that they think fit.

Chastanet and Choiseul MP Bradley Felix, the only two opposition MPs in the parliament, voted against suspending Standing Order 48:2 to allow Pierre to proceed with the remaining stages of the bill at Thursday’s special sitting of the House.

As a result, Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre accused them of voting ‘against the police’.

But Chastanet declared that the opposition had not opposed the bill but required more time as they received the legislation only that afternoon.

He said that was unfair, especially given the nature of the bill.

The Micoud South told the House that the government had access to other mechanisms, namely a state of emergency for which the constitution requires transparency and accountability.
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However, Chastanet noted that, ultimately, the Minister of National Security is responsible for all the actions in the escalated crime bill.

Before the police exercise any powers under the bill, the Minister of National Security must pass an order, essentially a statutory instrument, to designate a particular area as an escalated crime zone.

The instrument would prescribe the order’s boundaries and duration.

However Chastanet told the House that unlike the escalated crime bill, parliament is responsible in a state of emergency.

“You have to come to parliament in order to be able to act,” the former Prime Minister told the House.

“It may, potentially, Mr. Speaker, boomerang on us and create more fear and panic because if ordinary officers start executing that authority in an unreasonable way, Mr. Speaker, we will all pay that price for it,” Chastanet warned.

He supported the police commissioner and police officers, acknowledging that they were operating during difficult times.

Chastanet recalled that gang-related crime had plagued Saint Lucia for years, with parliament passing various measures to address the problem.

“Yet, despite all the promise of those laws here we find ourselves again. So you see, Mr. Speaker, at the end of the day it’s not the laws that are going to solve this problem Mr. Speaker. It’s the collective effort of where we all now declare war in crime,” he asserted.

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8 COMMENTS

  1. Why is it that government and opposition never seem to agree on anything? I swear if money starts to grow on trees, one party would adamantly support is widespread cultivation and the other party would be vehemently against it.

    Government and Opposition don’t always have to have a everlasting confrontational relationship. On this issue of crime, now more than ever, both sides should close ranks and come up with practical solutions to reverse the country from spiralling to total destruction.

  2. Isn’t it our civil right to know the number of passports you sold during your reign in office?
    Please Mr. Chastanet kindly tells us the number of passports you sold.
    Now I have asked that question several times and cannot get an answer. I would like to make an official report to the Special Prosecutor when they start their investigations. I am serious about this matter.

  3. When a government has already behaved like it is totally unaccountable to the electorate and in fact denies them their democratic rights, we should be afraid. Our politicians, police and customs officials have some very shady people among them. Be careful empowering legislation doesn’t end up with more Baje and Gobat type murders. A man the US DEA is watching and another 2 that Scotland Yard are watching should not be at the top with rights to use their agents on the citizenry.

  4. The gun violence needs to be controlled by any means necessary. Our national security is being threatened and communities are being terrorized. If empowering the police is what it takes, I am willing to support. Amendments to the bill can be made overtime. The gangsters pose a threat to our civil rights and our way of life.

  5. @Troy Francis When Mr. Chastanet will kindly tells us the number of passports he sold.
    The crime in St Lucia will magically disappear RIGHT?

  6. What should be amended immediately are the laws that allow illegal gun owners to get out on bail. What we are witnessing are part of the results of this crazy law. Whether or not we they want to admit it, there are persons way at the top who benefit from the criminal activities. When their boys are caught they just get a little slap on the wrist. Before you give police powers that can prove a threat to the average law abiding citizen, try keeping the illegal gun owners behind bars and trace their weapons to all the unsolved murders. Trust me, gun crimes will reduce like magic.

  7. @Troy Francis When Mr.Chastanet will tell us how many passports he sold I guess the Crime in St Lucia will magically disappear Right? 🤦‍♂️

  8. Hey, Troy Francis is that you just like to deflect, or your comprehension is so bad or you are so much afraid of the truth or two of the three or all three?

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