Financial constraints are hampering the government’s ability to address issues of crime and justice in Saint Lucia, Minister for Home Affairs, Justice and National Security, Hermangild Francis, has told members of the Saint Lucia Chamber of Commerce, Industry and Agriculture.
“I wanted to be in a position to give you great news on what we intend to do to enhance security and the rule of law, but the reality is such that our fiscal situation does not allow us to do some of the things that we needed to do in this fiscal space,” Francis said.
However the former Deputy Police Commissioner said that his ministry cannot lie down and play dead.
He vowed that the ministry will fight as hard as possible to do the things which are expected to enhance security and justice in Saint Lucia.
According to Francis, the years 2011 to 2012 were significant years in the history of this country.
“It changed the landscape when it came to police procedures and tactics in combatting crime and criminal activity,” the minister said.
He observed that a programme that was welcomed by citizens quickly changed into condemnation of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF), with morale in the force plummeting to unprecedented levels.
It as a clear reference to the anti-crime initiative dubbed Operation Restore Confidence, during which a number of persons were shot dead by the police, prompting an investigation and the compilation of a document widely referred to as the IMPACS report as well as a backlash from the United States in the face of allegations of extra-judicial killings by local law enforcers.
“The Americans imposed Leahy law on Saint Lucia,” Francis recalled, adding that the move effectively deprived members of the RSLPF from receiving training and equipment.
He explained that the Marine Unit, which had always been fully equipped by the Americans, was the hardest hit.
Francis, who is currently the Chairman of the Regional Security System (RSS), said he has spoken to the director of the organization to devise ways and means to have Saint Lucian police officers trained, even though they are still not allowed to take part in training sponsored by the United States.