The brutal murder of Robert Pratt, a British sailor who was allegedly denied clearance to leave Saint Lucia last Thursday, should not come as a surprise to anyone, according to the Lucian People’s Movement (LPM) political party.
“Moreover, if it is proven that Pratt and his wife were denied clearance to leave because of our nation’s overbearing bureaucratic system and that the delay in processing their request to return to their homeland might have opened them up to the prying eyes of criminal elements, then our government no doubt has a lot to answer to the United Kingdom and the rest of the international community,” the LPM said in a press statement.
In Pratt’s online travel journal, he wrote about the difficulties encountered, a day before his death: “On Thursday morning the plan was to clear out from Soufriere, then to travel south and use up the 72 hours before we had to be away. But bureaucracy intervened. HM Customs and Excise (sic) in Soufriere told us that exit had to happen within 24 hours of clearing out; and that anyway, we couldn’t clear out of Soufriere that day because the Immigration Officer hadn’t come to work (!!).”
Based on that information from Pratt’s blog, the LPM insists that for “For many years now, Saint Lucian governments—and, in particular, those led by Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony from 1996 to 2006 and 2011 to the present—haven’t done much to create an environment of ease whereby locals and visitors alike are able to conduct government-related business in a speedy and timely manner. This, the LPM says, must be reviewed in order to trim the unnecessary bureaucracy and create confidence in the ability of the government of Saint Lucia to operate within a modern and acceptable system that meets most international standards.”
Also, in assessing the government’s handling of the situation following Pratt’s murder, the LPM states that it is appalled by the denial and continued attempts to paint an inaccurate picture of how ruthless the criminal elements on the island have become.
In doing so, the party points to a statement issued by Tourism Minister Lorne Theophilus, affirming that “Saint Lucia remains relatively safe for nationals and visitors alike.” However, the LPM disagrees and instead suggests to Theophilus “that our nation would be better served if his government would take a more critical look at what is happening in the country instead of focusing on a narrow public relations stunt that simply seeks to mask or deny the ruthless nature of crime in Saint Lucia”.
According to the LPM ” a simple review of the national statistics indicates that we have lost over 300 citizens (mostly young people) to homicide in the last eight years. Therefore, while the government and its misguided group of supporters continue to ridicule attempts to highlight the serious nature of the problem, Saint Lucia can never effectively move to manage its crime problem unless there is an acknowledgement on the part of the government that this situation is grievous”.
The LPM “suggests that the effective management of crime does not entail a willful attempt to mislead the Saint Lucian citizens into believing that they risk tarnishing the image of our country should they speak forcefully against the savagery of criminal activities on the island. Rather, true patriotism mandates that we all place our country above all else, including the selfish and self-serving attempts to keep our party in power”.
The LPM maintains that combating crime requires a “progressive government that is willing to forsake all political theatrics and instead focus on uniting our nation in order to provide effective security throughout the length and breadth of Saint Lucia. It certainly does not involve having a complacent or passive attitude to crime, or the kind of deafening silence that seems to emanate from within the halls of the government of Saint Lucia following numerous incidents in which locals are gunned down or butchered to death”.
The LPM says that such “official behaviour only serves to embolden criminals by sending the wrong signal that the government of Saint Lucia is unable to carry out its responsibility of ensuring that it maintains a safe and stable society”.
“Therefore, unless there is open acknowledgement of the problem, we can expect to have other unfortunate incidents such as those involving Robert Pratt, and Colin Peter (a Canadian citizen who was murdered while vacationing in Saint Lucia in November of 2012), among others,” the political party concluded.
Police said three persons are currently in custody assisting with investigations surrounding Pratt’s death.
In a press release received by our newsroom late Saturday, the police disclosed details about the incident in which 62-year-old Roger Pratt was killed and his wife, Margaret Pratt, was injured.
According to the police, “About midnight on Friday, January 17, 2014, officers attached to the Vieux Fort Police Station responded to a report of robbery on a vessel named “Magnetic Attraction” which was berthed at the Seaport in Vieux Fort.
“On arrival, the officers received information that three armed men had boarded the vessel, attacked and injured the occupants before they fled. At the time of the incident, the vessel was occupied by 60-year-old Margaret Pratt and her 62-year-old husband, Roger Pratt.
“Within minutes of the robbers fleeing, Margaret went in search of her husband and found him floating in the nearby waters. Roger was retrieved and transported to St. Jude Hospital via ambulance along with his wife. He was pronounced dead on arrival while Margaret was treated and discharged.
“A post mortem examination has been scheduled for Monday, January 20, 2014.”