Human Rights advocate Mary Francis has welcomed support voiced by Home Affairs Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte for an independent body to investigate police killings.
” I am not saying that the police do not have a right if they are under siege, if their lives are threatened, to kill and safeguard their lives. But we must know the circumstances through a proper independent impartial body,” Francis, the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights Coordinator, told St Lucia Times.
The outspoken Attorney at Law spoke in the aftermath of Tuesday evening’s fatal police shooting of Terry Emmanuel, alias ‘Five Bag’ at Barre St Joseph.
The deceased’s family has demanded a full investigation, disputing a police statement on the incident.
Mary Francis said she was encouraged by the forthright statement Home Affairs Minister Dr. Virginia Albert-Poyotte made regarding the need for an independent investigative body.
Francis said such a body would provide transparency and address suspicion in the minds of persons that there’s something to hide.
” I think she made the right statement and I am only hoping that this is followed up by action because for too long we have been asking for an independent body,” she said concerning the Minister’s statement to the media.
“I think they can get assistance. They can use other models – you have INDECOM (The Independent Commission of Investigations) in Jamaica . There were many police killings and the body was set up,” Francis told St Lucia Times.
“The inquest we have now under the coroner’s act does not give us the desired result – that the police present files to the coroner and then the matter proceeds. So where is the independence?” She declared.
“I called for a separate office of coroner in Saint Lucia with their own investigative machinery to ensure that that those killings are properly investigated and people can get a good outcome,” Francis recalled.
” I will be following up on the minister to see what is being done and really once and for all get this thing settled,” she explained.
According to Francis, the dark shadow of Operation Restore Confidence is still with Saint Lucia.
“Up to now the sanctions taken by the Americans still exist and it’s because they were not satisfied with the outcome of the inquests,” she declared, adding that based on the Minister’s remarks, she was looking forward to real change.
The Home Affairs Minister told reporters in the aftermath of the fatal police shooting of Terry Emmanuel that when there’s a police killing, she believes the prudent thing to do is to have an independent body carrying out the probe so there’s transparency and accountability in getting a clear picture of what transpired.
“If it’s the police investigating the police, there will always be the sense of suspicion and people may not find it credible,” the Babonneau MP stated.
“So it’s something we will look into and see how we can create a body that is more acceptable to the general public and more transparent so that all of us accept the outcome,” Albert-Poyotte stated.