Attorney at Law Mary Francis has called on the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) to provide body cameras for officers and subject them to lie detector tests after last week’s fatal police shooting of sixteen-year-old Ajani Charlery in Vieux Fort.
“I think the time has come for the police officers – members of the SSU and those units to be issued with body cameras. The members of such units should be subject to lie detector tests,” the outspoken Human Rights Advocate told St Lucia Times.
“I think this is necessary at this point in time because there are always contradictory statements between what eyewitnesses are saying and what the police themselves come up with,” the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights Coordinator explained.
“When you bring a case against the state ridiculous defences are put up. So with body cameras the facts will be easily ascertained,” Francis asserted.
She also called for an inquest into the fatal shooting of the teenager at Vieux Fort to determine whether the police used excessive force.
“While the police are carrying out investigations we know those things take a very long time. What we have to do in Saint Lucia is ensure that inquests are held soon after those deaths take place,” Francis told St Lucia Times.
“And not inquests under the old 2002 Inquest Act. We need to reform the inquest system also,” she asserted, adding a need for greater transparency and independence whereby a magistrate no longer serves and an independent position of coroner is created with investigators independent of the police.
“As it is now, the police would prepare a file and put it before the magistrate. Where is the independence? It’s a farce,” Francis expressed.
Ajani Charlery, a student of the Micoud Secondary school, was fatally shot by the police on Friday, January 28, when the officers said they were conducting an operation on Cemetery Road, Vieux Fort, about 10:00 pm.
A police statement said the officers were acting on information relating to the location of a seventeen-year-old suspect in a report of Burglary, who had escaped custody.
The statement said the police identified the suspect in the company of three other males.
It said when the officers approached, the four ran away, but the police detained three.
At the same time, one who attempted to evade arrest was shot while apprehending him, transported to a hospital, and later pronounced dead by a medical practitioner, according to the police statement.
However, relatives of the deceased have asserted that there’s something fishy about the incident.
And residents of the community have questioned the use of deadly force by the police.