Francis cites lessons from police slayings in US

Mary Francis, the outspoken Human Rights Activist, believes there are lessons to be learnt locally from recent fatal police shootings of black civilians in the United States.

“We have to observe policy on the use of force,” Francis, who is also an Attorney at Law, asserted.

She observed that in the United States as soon as the fatal shootings take place, the high command of the police force comes forward to hold news conferences to keep members of the public informed.

“I don’t see those things happening here,” the Coordinator of the  National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights declared.

She said that locally, sometimes such matters are covered up.

She asserted that police officers are police officers wherever they are and sometimes they abuse their power.

But she said the rule of the law must prevail whenever that happens, with a full independent inquiry being held.

“Those culpable must be brought to justice,” Francis observed.

She noted that the same way that police here have fatally shot civilians, the same is happening in the United States –  to black people.

Francis questioned why that should happen at all.

She said that the police are professionally trained in the use of force and because they are experienced persons, they ought to know when force is necessary.

The Attorney at Law observed that happily, there is a new use of force policy in place in Saint Lucia.

She explained that because of all that happened during the police campaign dubbed – Operation Restore Confidence ORC), the authorities were forced to review the policy.

Twelve civilians were killed between 2010 and 2011 by the police during ORC, prompting the United States to withdraw training and other forms of assistance to the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF).

The killings prompted an investigation resulting in report which said – among other things, that police officers had a “death list”, staged encounters and planted weapons to justify their actions.

Excerpts of the report were read on national television in March 2015 by then Prime Minister, Doctor Kenny Anthony.

“Once you follow the law those things would not be happening,” Mary Francis told the Times.



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