Human Rights Advisor and Politician Felicia Browne has lent her voice to ongoing debates surrounding the US’s decision to ban St. Lucian police from participating in training programs which it funds and organizes.
In a statement last week, Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony said that the US’s decision was mainly due to the killing of 12 persons by police officers between 2010 and 2011 under what was described then as “Operation Restore Confidence.”
Browne, in a statement said that the current dilemma is one which should be dealt from a “reflective and conscientious” standpoint.
Describing St. Lucia as a peaceful and law-abiding country where good governance and respect for human life is seen as paramount, Browne said that “human rights violations have serious and ethical consequences that may not be favorable to our country and people.”
According to her, “though the US embassy has every right to withhold technical aid to the St. Lucia Police Force, it is duly important that our country recognizes that having a professionally trained police force is equally important to our development as a nation.”
“As a country which takes pride and commitment in ensuring the safety and protection of all citizens, it is truly a sad state of affairs to be referenced by an international body of such a hideous crime. Extra-judicial killing, in essence, is a claim that the state implemented unethical practices to resolve a national concern. Such killings are said to hold deep and fundamental socio-political problems that are usually unable to reach peaceful solutions,” she said.
Browne in her statement also advocated for the victims’ families to be given “full and equal access to the investigations.”
“As a nation, we must continue to protect the rights of all citizens. We live in a time when guns are easily accessible to anyone including children, therefore the law must ensure that the restraint of force must be practiced at the highest levels to foster peace and tolerance of each other. This dilemma ought to be seen as a reflective point to investigate deeper into our judicial system by which justice and peace are the touchstones for the legal framework of our beloved State and country. Our children,therefore can have a history of peace and compassion- not one of intolerance and violence,” she further stated.
The human rights advisor further opined that all forms of violence, legal and illegal, “should be seen as a turning point for developing societies that seek to create peace and understanding amongst their citizens.”