The advocacy group, United and Strong Inc, has accused National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis of politicising crime in Saint Lucia.
The accusation follows comments by Francis in response to a video in which three United Kingdom nationals express their concern about crime in Saint Lucia, the professionalism of the police and the justice system.
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.
In a statement to reporters Monday, National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis said the crimes happened under the previous administration.
He also detailed a number of initiatives by the current government to deal with crime, while declaring that the three women who were featured in the video have a constitutional right to make their concerns about the pace of justice in Saint Lucia known.
According to Francis, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has been in constant contact with at least two of the complainants.
But United and Strong has expressed concern about his comments.
“United and Strong is saddened, disappointed even in statements made by the Honourable Minister of National Security, Hermangild Francis, in relation to comments coming from a UK national whose husband was murdered in 2014 and the rape of another woman in 2016,” United and Strong Communications Officer, Bennet Charles said.
“His comments sort of politicise the whole issue of crime in Saint Lucia,” Charles declared.
The United and Strong official asserted that the United Workers Party (UWP) government was elected on a platform of ensuring that crime would be reduced.
“We believe at United and Strong that this was one of the main reasons why the United Workers Party defeated the Saint Lucia Labour Party at the June 6 poll, 2016,” Charles stated.
He referred to the number of homicides that have so far been recorded in Saint Lucia and questioned whether the Saint Lucia Labour Party should be blamed or the United Workers Party for not keeping its promises.
Charles said United and Strong believes that there are flaws in the system, including the judicial system and the police.
He also spoke of the lack of resources which used to be obtained from foreign partners.
“But the fact that the minister has sort of trivialised the issue by saying that the crimes which these UK nationals were speaking about occurred under the last administration really and truly is a poor attempt at trying to soothe their concerns,” Charles declared.
“It highlights in our mind a presence of disrespect and an absence of empathy,” the United and Strong official said.
He said that United and Strong has also lost members of the LGBT community to crime under both administrations, but dares not blame any particular one of them.
“We have to look at the judicial system and look at how it needs to be enhanced so that justice prevails – to ensure that people have faith in the judicial system in this country, to ensure that people have faith in the police,” Charles observed.