One of the police officers who was a member of the Operation Restore Confidence (ORC) task force, which was accused of extra-judicial killings by the United States (US) government as well as a special investigation, was yesterday denied entry into the US, a reliable source has told St. Lucia News Online (SNO).
According to the senior law enforcement source, who requested anonymity, the police officer was scheduled to attend a family event in New York but when he checked in with the airline yesterday, he was told he couldn’t travel based on instructions from the US Embassy.
The cop was advised to contact the US Embassy for more information, the source added.
“The officer believes he was denied entry because of the IMPACS report,” the source noted.
Our source is investigating another report that the visa of another officer who was involved in ORC was revoked.
“The officer noted that while at the airport he saw another police officer who was travelling to the US and he had no problems,” the source added.
The police officer suspects that a list of the names of the officers involved in the controversial operation were submitted to the US authorities, the source added.
The police officer is the third known member of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force to have been denied entry to the US.
The visa of former Deputy Commissioner of Police Moses Charles was revoked. Charles was in charge of operations when the alleged “extra judicial killings” occurred.
Commissioner of Police Vernon Francois, who is now being retired from the Force, was denied entry to the United States to attend security meetings with officials of the United States, though his visa was not revoked.
Between 2010 and 2011, 12 persons were killed during encounters with officers of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force. The alleged extra-judicial killings occurred during “Operation Restore Confidence” – an initiative then Prime Minister Stephenson King announced on May 30, 2010 in an address to the nation.
The police operation was in response to an unprecedented wave of homicides and violent crimes between 2008 and 2010, particularly in the northern half of the island.
However the shootings resulted in a backlash for St. Lucia. The United States (US), citing human rights concerns, took action against the St. Lucia police force and the government.
The US ceased all financial and technical assistance to the St. Lucia Coast Guard. In addition, the Government of St. Lucia was banned from purchasing ammunition from the US for its American-made weapons.
Members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force could no longer participate in any training programme sponsored or financed by the United States. Police officers were also denied participation in training activities in the Regional Security System (RSS), once the training programme was sponsored or financed by the United States.
There were still more consequences. The visa of the former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Moses Charles, who led the special task force during Operation Restore Confidence, was revoked. Commissioner of Police, Vernon Francois, was denied entry to the US, even to attend security meetings with officials of the US. Francois’ visa was however not revoked.
Responding to the US sanctions, and in a bid to have them removed, the St. Lucia government had to show proof that it is taking corrective steps to deal with the situation.
As such, the government secured, through the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), the services of a team of investigators from the Jamaican Constabulary Force to investigate all instances of alleged “extra judicial killings” by members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.
The team comprised eight investigators including a ballistic expert, a legal advisor, a data entry specialist, a cyber-crime analyst, and detective investigators.
In a 27-minute address to the nation on March 8, 2015, Prime Minister Anthony released the main findings of the IMPACS investigation, confirming that the force worked from a “black list or death list” of persons deemed criminals and officers staged all shooting-death sites to legitimise their actions.
Prime Minister Anthony said the report of the investigators are “extremely damning” and “brings home the extreme gravity of this matter”. He said these findings relate not only to those officers who were involved in the operations, but members of the “high command of the police force” who may have been involved in “covering up these matters”.
Dr. Anthony explained: “The report confirms that the black list or death list referenced by the media, human rights organisations, victims, families and citizens alike did exist. More alarmingly, the investigators report that all the shootings reviewed were fake encounters staged by the police to legitimise their actions.”