Saint Lucia diplomatic sources have been clearing the air in response to accusations that this country’s High Commission in London has not done enough to assist a female national who has been detained in the United Kingdom.
The accusations have come from persons related to the woman and just this week from Human Rights Advocate and Attorney at Law, Mary Francis.
Francis blamed the situation on lack of adequate representation by the Saint Lucia High Commission in London.
The woman in question, who is in her late twenties, was held in 2016 at Gatwick airport with cocaine and jailed for five years, but served about two, it was disclosed.
The young female, although released from prison to return to Saint Lucia earlier this month, is still being held at a detention centre in the UK.
A diplomatic source who spoke on condition of anonymity, told St Lucia Times that everything possible has been done by the Saint Lucia High Commission in London to provide assistance to the young lady.
According to the source, this included visiting her in December last year and buying winter clothing for her to wear while behind bars at the Peterborough prison.
The source, who is familiar with the case, explained that although toiletries were also bought for the young lady, prison authorities said they were not allowed.
But it was explained that matter is now out of the high commission’s hands.
The incarcerated female, who has a young child in Saint Lucia, is supposed to have spent her last day in prison on March 6, 2019.
It was explained that the policy is for the British Home Office to request an Emergency Travel Document (ETD), since the inmate’s passport was lost while she was being moved from one prison to another.
According to the diplomatic source, the matter of getting tickets and returning non-nationals to their countries of origin after they have served their sentences in the UK is controlled by the Home Office.
The source said officials at the Saint Lucia High Commission in London were in constant contact with the Home Office to try to ensure that the young Saint Lucian female did not spend a day longer than necessary away from her homeland.
“The thing is that in Saint we are a small nation and everybody knows everybody. We may think we have one, two nationals in the UK, but the department that deals with that is responsible for sending home some 300 people in any given day, spread over a number of countries,” the diplomatic official told St Lucia Times.
Nevertheless, the official explained that Saint Lucia was able to get a confirmation of a flight on March 14, 2019 for the young female to return to this country.
But the official made clear that Saint Lucia has no control over how the person leaves the UK.
The official said information was received that the woman would leave Peterborough prison and be taken to Colnbrook Immigration Removal Centre.
But the Home Office later said that they had no transportation with the two required officers to accompany her to Colnbrook and as a result, she could not travel, St Lucia Times was informed.
It was reported that a British official offered to use his private vehicle to transport the Saint Lucian female, but the problem of getting the two required escorts to accompany her could not be resolved.
The diplomatic source said the fact that the young lady could not return home has had a big impact on her family in Saint Lucia, as they were preparing to welcome her back.
But the official said there was nothing this country could do about the situation.
The matter is said to be due for investigation by UK authorities.
In the meantime, efforts are continuing to get the young Saint Lucian back home as soon as possible.
According to information obtained by St Lucia Times, another Saint Lucian national who was due for release from a UK prison on January 31, 2019 and was eager to return home, is still in detention.
“There is nothing we can do about that,” the diplomatic source explained, adding that although an offer was made by the man’s family to buy his ticket, it has made no difference to is situation.