Human Rights Activist, Mary Francis, has said that government should not have any major influence on the local police force and police officials should not be used as ‘political weapons’.
Francis comment comes in light of the recent US 2015 Human Rights Report, which highlights the abuse of power by police on Saint Lucia, who in some cases never face prosecution.
The outspoken attorney said when political parties assume office, “the government of the day always have the police underneath their heel and that has been going on.”
“Those things have to stop. That is not the role of the police in a democratic society, to be controlled by the government of the day,” Francis told St. Lucia News Online (SNO) on Monday.
While admitting that some steps have being taken to address the issue, Francis noted that only came about as a result of the consequences of Operation Restore Confidence and the IMPACS report.
She noted that since the completion of the report, there has been a shakeup at the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF), where a few senior police officials have been sent on early retirement.
“So we are beginning to see signs that things are changing, but we all have to remain vigilant. But the tradition has been there and people have been killed in the past and there was no inquest.”
However, the US report also revealed that there have been complaints of physical abuse of prisoners by police and prison officers, and that a number of other complaints have been filed against the police.
Francis said it has been a long standing issue in Saint Lucia, stating that she recently came across a 1985 Crusader Newspaper article, where George Odlum talked about police brutality and killings.
She said the police should be held accountable for their wrongdoings and citizens should not be afraid to stand up for their rights.