By Caribbean News Global contributor
CASTRIES, St Lucia – Acting commissioner of police, Milton Desir on Wednesday, August 19, confirmed speculation with the words, “Today’s a very sad day for the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF), we have an officer responding to duty who is now charged for murder.”
The identity of the police officer well-known on social media, is excepting an official release “after he has been taken to court” said acting commissioner of police, Desir.
The charge of murder dates back to the 2018 murder of 22-year-old, Ronnie Samuel, no stranger to law enforcement (with apparent connections in the high echelons of the RSLPF) is said to have arisen following Samuel’s alleged use of a firearm during a J’ouvert activity in Gros Islet on August 1, 2018, injuring two men in the process.
Acting commissioner of police Desir said: “It was not a case where the officer was off-duty, it’s not a case where the officer was responding on his own, it was a situation based on an event that took place where something happened and the officer was responding and the individual succumbed to his death as a result of the officer’s action. Officers in responding to situations, you have to ensure that any action that you take, you will be able to justify that action. I am hoping that this officer will be able to justify the action that he took on the day,” said Desir. “This charge was as a result of a police officer investigating another police officer. We keep hearing that when police officers are investigating officers, you would not get results and the case would not go forward. [Today] this officer is charged by an officer who was investigating the matter.”
On July 29, speaking on DBS’s Newsmaker Live — Saint Lucia’s minister for home affairs, justice and national security, Hermangild Francis, a holder of a law degree and a former deputy commissioner of police in the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) uttered what local and external intelligence have known for some time now.
“Crime is now big business in Saint Lucia, there are persons who are known hitmen in Saint Lucia and these guys will not hesitate, if they get the right amount of money, to put a hit on you,” Francis explained.
Meantime, officers from the RSLPF stood outside police headquarters in solidarity, acting commissioner of police Desir cautioned: “I know today is a day where persons are empathizing with the officer but they should continue doing their duties diligently. Once you are performing your duties according to the law, there should be no fear.”
However, acting commissioner of police Desir, further said, “I support the RSLPF association in getting full representation for this officer and other officers that may face similar situations.”
This may be viewed in the context that Saint Lucia police are still subject to US sanctions.
It is understood that a number of RSLPF officers are at risk for prosecution accused of extrajudicial killings during the 2010/2011 Operation Restore Confidence (ORC) in Saint Lucia. Credible prosecutions are a precursor if the sanctions imposed on the island’s security forces by the US under the so-called Leahy Law are to be lifted.
According to a report by Jamaican police officers under the aegis of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), commissioned by a subsequent Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) administration, “Investigators reported that all the shootings reviewed were ‘fake encounters’ staged by the police to legitimise their actions… weapons were planted on the scene of the shootings… and a number of the shootings were done by police officers but were listed in murder statistics as attributable to unknown assailants.”
The status of IMPACS investigation is also relevant to Saint Lucia and the Global Magnitsky Act.
Despite the commitment to a constitutional democracy, when strong personalities foster elitism that cultivate the abuse of power, privacy and secret agreements, coupled with human rights abuses and blatant corruption, more collateral damage can be expected to the political and economic well-being of Saint Lucia through the Global Magnitsky Act (GMA), which allows the US government to sanction corrupt government officials implicated in human rights abuses anywhere in the world.