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The second part of the Caribbean News Now exclusive interview with Allen Chastanet, prime minister of Saint Lucia, discussed the problem of increased crime, which is pertinent to the economic viability of his 100 percent tourism focus, as well as the ability to attract offshore financial services under the Headquarters Act.
On the subject of crime, first, let’s examine measure and perhaps obstacles to get past the status quo and the ingenuity required to create and implement new policies that advance the situation.
In previous articles, I addressed the rule of law and lack thereof including the most recent St Lucia’s national security in peril, and that national security minister Hermangild Francis has conceded, “St Lucia is facing an unprecedented crime wave.”
This contrasts with claims made by Prime Minister Chastanet in the 2016 general elections: “Has Kenny Anthony made Saint Lucia safer? He didn’t, but we will. He didn’t, but I will… this is the most important decision to consider in the upcoming campaign” whereas since the elections the country has been plunged into even deeper lawlessness and record breaking homicides, currently at 33 for 2017.
The prime minister’s budget speech sub-heading, the Socio-Economic Reality in Saint Lucia, read: “Crime, violence, abuse, lack of respect for people and property, these have become the norm and part of our daily existence. We must encourage discourse but not destruction. We have to set better standards for ourselves and for our children and take pride in our country.”
This is instructive to present day reality in that it underlines attitude and behaviour, transactions associated with government and the integrity aspect of public life that trickles down from the top.
According to a Facebook comment, Chastanet is not in a position to discuss crime when he has Ubaldus, a minister in the ministry of finance, who reportedly told a young girl that he has not paid as much as $700 for sex, which stands to reason that he has made some form of payment.
Another Facebook user cited the recent resignation of former senator Jimmy Henry as minister in the ministry of agriculture, fisheries, physical planning, natural resources and cooperatives, who refuses to tell the nation the real reason ‘Lament’ was stopped for questioning at the airport by police. Then he needs to explain why the campaign manager is or was locked up?
Perhaps there is a co-relationship derived from elected officials that sets the standard for a lawless and degenerate society, rather than the leadership by example and behaviour in harmony with social and political ethics.
There cannot be two set of rules. One for the political and elite class and one for the ordinary and common people and a judicial system that is incapable of addressing basic violations of human rights. These misadventures are certain to set the standard for what is acceptable of behaviour for the general public.
And this trait is by no means unique to the United Workers Party (UWP). In March of last year, then prime minister, Dr Kenny Anthony, made a public assertion that serial rapists were on the loose in Saint Lucia and expressed “a deep sense of outrage, revulsion and anger about the recent spate of rapes in our country”.
“For my part, I will ensure that the police force implement my suggestion that a dedicated unit be established within the force to investigate rapes and bring to justice those responsible for these heinous acts,” he added.
However, Anthony’s sanctimony was exposed by the reminder that, in two earlier cases in which then serving senior Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) government officials were arrested and charged with rape, neither was “brought to justice”. In each case, the matter was settled “out of court” (read paid off).
Given the entrenched attitudes at the top levels of government of both parties, is there a realistic hope of making a difference?
The Royal St Lucia Police Force is facing well publicised constraints following the withdrawal US assistance under the Leahy Law, the inability to establish effective leadership at all levels of the police force and domestic budget cuts in FY 2017/18, all of which collectively impact law enforcement capabilities.
Commenting on the crime situation in June, the prime minister said, “We have to start with the judicial system and that government has made allocations for additional police vehicles, which will be sourced through money the police have seized.”
This concept is quite extraordinary and egregious in the context of decision making associated with law enforcement, but perhaps consistent with the supposed theory of trickledown economics.
After all, fighting crime starts at the top. Remedial efforts require personal efforts that are realistic and practical. Even then there is need to advance sound conservative policies to navigate divisiveness, the authority to demonstrate the rule of law and improve social deficiencies, through programmes and development projects.
Anything less will not create the environment to move Saint Lucia’s social and economic condition forward.
Melanius Alphonse is a management and development consultant, a long-standing senior correspondent and a contributing columnist to Caribbean News Now. His areas of focus include political, economic and global security developments, and on the latest news and opinion. His philanthropic interests include advocating for community development, social justice, economic freedom and equality. He contributes to special programming on Radio Free Iyanola, RFI 102.1FM and NewsNow Global analysis. He can be reached at [email protected]