St. Lucian fisherman says he was treated like a drug dealer by Vincentian cops

By Kingsley Emmanuel

Evans

Terrible and unprofessional.

That’s how a fisherman of Vieux-Fort has described the treatment meted out to him by law enforcement officers in St. Vincent while in their custody, after his fishing vessel experienced mechanical problems and drifted to the neighbouring island.

According to Thomas Evans of Bruceville, Vieux-Fort, his experience at sea when his boat engine suddenly stopped working was not as harrowing as the treatment he received at a police station in a rural part of St. Vincent.

“I was not really afraid when the boat engine stopped working because it was not the first time I have had such an experience at sea. I know what it’s like… I am a fisherman,” Evans alleged in an interview with this reporter.

Evans, who was the captain of the fishing vessel, said the other member of the crew was not taken into police custody because he suffered with hernia while in St. Vincent, and had to be kept at a hospital where he spent four days before they returned to St. Lucia last Thursday.

“They kept me in a cell at the police station for four days with my wet clothes. They treated me very badly…, ” Evans said, adding that he was in a cell with four other men.

He added: “In the morning they gave me a bread and coffee…at 5 p.m. some rice and a wing, and nothing in the evening.”

Evans said the police accused him of dealing with drugs, adding that whenever St. Lucian fishermen find themselves in St. Vincent due to distress at sea, they are treated as drug dealers.

“All what they were talking about was drugs, drugs…:” Evans said.

He said this is not the first time he has been treated in such a manner by Vincentian police after experiencing distress at sea.

According to Evans, what made matters worse for him was that he did not have a fisherman Identification Card because his got damaged. He said that the police told him that as long as he does not have a fisherman’s ID card they can’t treat him as a genuine fisherman.

Evans is now calling on all fishermen to make sure that whenever they go to sea they have their fisherman ID card with them.

Recounting his experience at sea after his fishing vessel experienced mechanical problems, he said they were on their way back to St. Lucia with about 150 pounds of fish when their boat engine stopped working and drifted them on a reef which badly damaged their boat.

“We spent the whole night on the rocks…” Evans recalled.

He said the following day a fishing vessel which spotted them came to their rescue and took them to a nearby village.

A number of fishermen from Vieux-Fort say they have experienced similar ordeal at the hands of Vincentians police officers after they experienced distress at sea.

They say while they are being treated inhumanely in St. Vincent, local police officers treat Vincentians fishermen who experience distress at sea in a humane manner.

(18)(3)
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21 comments

  1. There is the need for the intervention of the Foreign Affairs Ministry on the issue as it pertains to human rights and the rights of a prisoner. Are you saying because you do not have in your possession a drivers license when you are stopped you should be man handled and thrown into a cell and not treated humanely? I hope this is not a case of you being biased because of the knowledge you possess my friend. Even "drug dealers" have rights.

    (3)(0)
  2. We love you Zardar. One of the hardest and best people I know. Jah is your guide.

    (10)(0)
  3. I the defense of us fishers with regards to I'D cards the fisheries department is to blamed for not having them ,there is always a problem with their ID machine when we go to get it renewed up in Castries and is never given a temporary one ,it's almost a decade more or this machine is been down hence the reason for us not have the required documents of proof .so don't blame us for going to work without it .

    (8)(0)
  4. Thank God you guys are ok you'll have a very dangerous job.... I highly respect what you'll do. BUT, on the other hand... you snooze you lose!!! How in the hell you left for sea without your permit? It's a must have at all times in your possession... come on!! I'm sorry about the awful treatment you experienced, but the POLICE is doing their JOB! The LAW is the LAW! There are lots of drugs traveling around the Caribbean waters ... You might not be a drug dealer, but the next boat is! Stay safe and do the right thing by carrying your document with you.

    (24)(6)
    • This is an unfair comment "Sorry". We do have guys who purport to be fishers but are drug dealers who go to SVG to purchase weed.
      I am not saying that it is the Department of Fisheries to be blamed but the fishers and all the agencies including Department of Fisheries and the Fishers' Cooperatives must accept blame for the lack of Fisher ID, continuous training in safety practices and improvement in fishing methods.
      The Vincentian police could have made a call to the RSLPF and the Department of Fisheries to verify the varacity of the fisher's story and his identity as a bona-fide fisher.
      We as a people are too quick to judge when we do not any idea the hardships that people experience.
      I am totally disgusted by some comments here.
      And yes I am a fisher and familiar with the territory and the risk of experiencing engine problems.

      (2)(0)
  5. All is not lost there is still hope

    A driver should not go behind a wheel without his license on hand. The same goes for all fishermen when going out to sea they should always have their fisherman license on hand. CAN'T BLAME THE VINCENTIAN POLICE..NO ID NO WAY TO AUTHENTICATE WHETHER HE IS A FISHERMAN OR NOT..It is time we Saint Lucian take responsibility for not complying with the law.

    (26)(9)
    • So are you saying that a person who does not have their driver's license ON HAND during the time of an accident should not be tended to by EMTs or ill treated by police?

      (31)(10)
      • SMH where did you get all of that from ? Stop putting words in people mouth.

        (11)(6)
      • A driver who does not have valid ID will be treated like one who has broken the law, just as this gentleman was. And we can't blame the Vincy police either because we KNOW that the majority who get stranded are dealers and not fishers.

        (1)(1)
    • I share same sentiments with you Buh tbh if st Lucia had stricken laws which involves fishermen’s ids then I think 3/4 or more of the fishing population wouldn’t fish, Buh then again it comes down to educating them Buh they don’t listen, sad that it had to get down to this for him Buh I believe the officers were doin their job

      (1)(0)
    • "All is not lost there is still hope" absolute kaka dung.

      All fishers details should be held on file (paper of electronic) Vincentian Police could have easily made a call to St Lucia Fisheries and or Police to verify Evans's claim (he was there for 4 days)

      We need to think outside the box, we like all the latest technology (smart phone, tablet etc) just to show off to others when we can't use a quarter of the functions these devices come with.

      (1)(0)
  6. Our Foreign Affairs minister need to raise this distressing matter with the government of St Vincent. It's bad enough being at sea and loosing engine power; and being lucky enough to land on shore at the nearest neighbouring sister island. After all that to be locked up in a cell in ones wet clothes and with little food is not what we expect of brothers on another island.

    That being said, I have to ask brother Evans the question: why didn't your other fisherman comrades speak to the officers in your favour?

    (25)(2)
    • Understand the piece

      The article clearly stated there was ONE other person with him who was kept in hospital due to health issues. In addition, while in the CELL, there were four other men. Unknown to him.

      (8)(3)
  7. Well when tbey drift there do tbem the same.

    (14)(5)
    • Rice and butter.

      (2)(2)
    • Over to the Vinci Fishermen been a Vinci you know right off bat what they would think but that's what St Lucia would probably do or have done if you came here with no ID worst yet those trigger happy fools would probably shoot first and ask questions later. Can't feel sorry for you boss, too much slackness and disregard of compliance to your bread and butter. You are going out to sea anything can happen like you have stated "it's not the first time your engine went out", even the most seasoned fisherman can find themselves in serious trouble. Where is your radio ? Where is your phone, Where is your life vest? Where is your flare ? and above all where is your ID ?

      (17)(7)

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