Attorney at Law Mary Francis has expressed concern over ‘reckless’ police action in an incident at Bois d’ Inde, Jacmel, on Saturday.
But the police and citizens have provided differing accounts of what transpired.
Mary Francis is the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights Coordinator.
“Whilst we know we are under siege from criminals with all that’s going on with all those shootings taking place on a daily basis, to me the police – especially some of them, they are not helping the situation,” she told St Lucia Times.
According to the outspoken human rights advocate, crime prevention and law enforcement go together.
In this regard, Francis referred to a viral social media video, replayed on local television news, in which the police fired on a vehicle.
The Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) said an officer and a male occupant of the vehicle sustained injuries.
However, based on what she saw in the video, Francis said that the police behaved recklessly in asking citizens in the vehicle to stop and firing several rounds after it.
“The citizens all spoke out and said there was no need for this type of behavior,” the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights Coordinator observed.
“Especially it would seem that the police officer involved was from the community and he was involved in some game as to what I heard on the media, I don’t know whether that is true,” Francis told St Lucia Times.
She lamented that the Police Complaints Unit is not working and pointed to the frequency of police-involved incidents, such as the one in Jacmel.
“This has been happening in Saint Lucia all the time – you find police officers are abusing their powers to settle private matters they may have or problems with members of the community,” Francis observed.
She said it was refreshing to hear this week’s remarks by Joachim Henry, Minister for Equity, Social Justice, and Empowerment.
“I think he had incidents of the police abusing their powers in his constituency, and he came out over the media and he also said that the police hierarchy must respond. Indeed, that is quite true. However, I am not hearing anything from the Police Commissioner – he is always in and out of the country attending meetings,” the Attorney at Law declared.
“When you have such incidents of police recklessly firing shots at citizens like that, to me the Police Commissioner and the police hierarchy should make a statement. This is what Mr. Joachim Henry said. In a situation like that there must be some response,” Francis declared.