Human Rights campaigner Mary Francis has described as unbelievable, a viral video recording of police brutality carried out against a suspect in handcuffs.
And she has declared that had it not been for social media, a mere report of what transpired may have been dismissed as an attempt to bash the police.
During the 10 second recording a male officer in camouflage uniform repeatedly strikes the handcuffed man on the head with what appears to be the broad side of a cutlass.
The suspect is shown on his knees.
A total of three armed police officers appear in the brief recording which is reported to have been filmed in Vieux Fort on Wednesday.
Mary Francis, who is the Coordinator of the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights, told St Lucia Times she cannot believe that a police officer would use a cutlass to lash out at a man who has been described by his relatives as being mentally challenged.
She observed that the man had also been restrained.
“This is an abuse of human rights. You are not dealing with an animal. It’s just as if you have an animal tied and being carried to be slaughtered,” the outspoken Attorney at Law told St Lucia Times.
She asserted that the recording deals a further blow to the image of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) in regard to police brutality, violation of human rights and excessive use of force.
Francis was of the opinion that the culture of impunity in the RSLPF is to blame for such acts of lawlessness by officers.
She declared that the culture of impunity has existed from time immemorial.
“There has been impunity. The powers that be have failed to put the necessary structures in place to ensure that there is justice when those things occur,” Francis lamented.
She said that for political reasons, the authorities do not want to attack the police force.
“The executive – the government is relying on the police force for the whole question of the crime; the high level of crime; and the citizens are afraid so that might affect the chances of the party at the next elections. So they are prepared to tread gingerly in terms of condemnation of the police force and ensuring accountability,” Francis told St Lucia Times.
She reiterated calls for an independent body to investigate cases of police brutality with specific time lines for the submission of reports and recommendations.
“It is good that we have social media today so citizens can believe, because sometimes without the evidence – the visual evidence, they would tend not to believe and say they’re just bashing the police,” she stated.
Francis asserted that the police officer who assaulted the man in handcuffs ought to face strong sanctions.
“Who has to be dismissed must be dismissed. Who has to face the law must face the law,” she told St Lucia Times.