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Seven male prisoners from the British Virgin Islands (BVI) arrived in Saint Lucia this morning, government officials have confirmed.
The prisoners arrived in a British militay aircraft at the Hewanorra International Airport in Vieux Fort.
They were scheduled to be medically inspected and transported to the Bordelais Correctional Facility (BCF) where they will remain for some time.
The development stems from St. Lucia’s offer to the British government to have prisoners from the BVI transferred here after the prison in that territory was severely damaged by category 5 storm, Hurricane Irma.
“The prison was badly damaged and so we were making space at Bordelais as well as making facilities available at the free zone to be able to help,” Prime Minister Allen Chastanet had told a news conference in St. Lucia earlier this month.
He had explained that there is a shortage of manpower in the hurricane-ravaged territories because people are helping with essential services.
“Saint Lucia stands ready to assist all of our brothers,” Chastanet, who is currently Chairman of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) declared.
Later, in a press release, Chastanet re-assured members of the St. Lucia public that local security officials as well as the British government will ensure prisoners brought to Saint Lucia will be safely transferred and not pose a risk to Saint Lucia’s population.
He told the House of Assembly on Tuesday, September 12 that the Ministry for Security, the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force and the management of Bordelais Correctional Facility have assessed the situation and communicated that Saint Lucia can safely house up to 50 prisoners.
In the press release, the Chastanet explained that in making the decision to accept the prisoners he considered what would have happened if in fact Saint Lucia was in similar dire need. He said in times of disaster Saint Lucia also received immense relief and support from the British and the French.
“Let me take the opportunity to assure all St Lucians that your security is not being put at risk. But I think this is the humane thing for us to have done at a time when our brothers and sisters and our friends and family need us the most. It is the most important time for us to stand up and be counted,” Chastanet stated in the release.