Saint Lucia’s National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis, Monday expressed surprise at a recent video featuring United Kingdom nationals expressing concern about the pace of justice here and raising questions about the professionalism and competence of the local police.
The video, which has been making the rounds on social media, featured Margaret Pratt, Anne Pearson and Georgina Mortimer in a round-table discussion.
Margaret Pratt’s husband, Roger Pratt, was murdered in an attack aboard their yacht in Vieux Fort in January, 2014, while Anne Pearson recounted details of her mother’s murder some 6 years ago and Georgina Mortimer reported that she was raped while on vacation in Saint Lucia in February last year.
Hermangild Francis said he respects the right of the three UK nationals to voice their frustration with the pace of the matters being dealt with in any forum of their choice.
But he noted that the incidents that were highlighted occurred some time ago under the watch of the previous administration.
“I take no pleasure in stating that fact and I will not dwell on it. What is important at this present time is to indicate how this administration has performed in dealing with the issue of access to (justice) and what it has initiated to make our justice system more responsive,” Francis asserted, while detailing a number of initiatives undertaken by the current government.
He said the ‘strides’ were made long before the video featuring the three British women surfaced.
He told reporters that his ministry has always had an open door policy where anyone who has an issue with crime or the dispensation of justice is free to visit and engage him.
“In the case of the overseas territories like the United States and the United Kingdom in particular, their representatives are in constant dialogue with me enquiring about the welfare of their citizens when they have become victims of crime or have difficulty accessing the judicial system,” the former Deputy Police Commissioner disclosed.
“It is against this background that I was surprised to view that video,” Francis stated.
However he declared that the three individuals featured have a constitutional right to make their concerns about the pace of justice in Saint Lucia known.
Francis said that he is aware that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has been in constant contact with at least two of the complainants.
He disclosed that two of the matters are not ‘simple’ and ‘straightforward’.
“These matters have several twists and turns and we are presently looking for a resolution,” the minister noted.
But he said he could not go into details.
Nevertheless Francis said he wanted to assure members of the public and the outside world that Saint Lucia intends to deal with the cases as speedily as possible.