INDEPENDENT Senator Stephen King this week made another plea to the authorities to do something to address the overcrowding that has been an issue for some time at the Bordelais Correctional Facility.
Readers will recall that some 18 months ago, we drew attention to the fact that St Lucia was quickly acquiring a reputation for human rights abuses. While we did mention the Bordelais situation at the time, this was not our only focus. There were a number of other areas where peoples’ rights were and are still being compromised without redress. And let us make the point quickly, that this is not an indictment of this government only.
The fact of the matter is the people we have been electing to office over the years, both Labour Party and United Workers Party, have badly let us down in fulfillment of the mandate that they asked for, and were given, to make life better for all of us. On top of it all, we the people have not been able to hold them to properly account for their failures.
This week, a European Union delegation was in town holding discussions with the Prime Minister and others about IMPACS and human rights. Given the nature of their visit, they must surely have been made aware of Senator King’s statement. We say so because to the best of our knowledge a number of European citizens are among the three hundred plus prisoners languishing at Bordelais on remand.
When a year and a half passes and a serious, in fact, crisis matter to which attention was drawn remains unresolved, questions must be asked as to whether there is any commitment to resolution. This is the serious predicament that the government finds itself in at this time. Not only IMPACS and remand prisoners at Bordelais are outstanding, but so are Lambirds, the forensic laboratory, our hospitals and many other issues that ought to have been attended to by the various departments of government and remain stuck in a rut, month after month.
It might have helped somewhat if someone was accounting to the people for these lapses or shortcomings by way of public explanations, and promises of action to address public concerns, but we have no such thing taking place here.
We refer again, to the Constitutional Reform Commission which has made recommendations to deal with this kind of abject disdain and disrespect which those elected to office show towards we who pay their salaries. The people said they were tired of what was going on and wanted change. The response of their leaders was a swift rebuff.
But we better be careful. We are currently in election mode and while we do not expect at any time that Europe or the United States will attempt to interfere in how we conduct our domestic affairs, we are quite likely to remain under their human rights radar as the election campaign unfolds, given some of the nonsense that we have already witnessed here that seriously border on attempts to deny people their rights.
Try as we might, we cannot run away from the facts of life: that human rights is a major issue for many countries with which we have relations, even those whose own records are by no means spotless. Being the beggars that we are for their aid, trade and investment, how do we fight off their threats and pressures if not by conducting our own affairs with accountability and resolve?