Letters & Opinion

We Can Do Better On Human Rights

By Clement Wulf-SoulageONE morning in May five years ago, five individuals were shot in an alleged intervention by the police to foil what they claimed was an attempted robbery at a restaurant in Vieux-Fort. After several years of political and judicial inertia, and under pressure from the United States to prosecute for alleged extrajudicial killings, the Prime Minister in a televised statement last year announced that the findings of the so-called IMPACS report revealed that “Between 2010 and 2011, twelve persons met their deaths following encounters with officers of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force. The largest number of the civilian casualties occurred in the Castries Basin, allegedly during the execution of duly authorized search warrants.” Since that moment of revelation, it seems like the country’s human rights image has fallen on really hard times.

If indeed the killings were extrajudicial, to date no one has been punished, and almost no one has been held to account for any other human-rights crime committed during that period. In particular, it is far from clear whether the police acted on its own or whether they got instructions from a higher authority.

At any rate, as the prohibition of extrajudicial killings is central to human rights law, the U.S. has taken a keen interest (perhaps conveniently) in the matter, prompting the State Department to report that “the most serious human rights problems included reports of unlawful police killings” – and more specifically, “12 potentially unlawful fatal police shootings during the year.”

Now I won’t deny that for too long, human rights have been taken for granted in this country – perhaps as far back as the early eighties. I’ll also not pretend that the United States is a moral authority on human rights. After all, Jimmy Carter once admitted: “America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense human rights invented America.” Yet, any progressive society should hold human rights in the highest regard. Of course, Saint Lucia is not considered to be among the major human rights-violating countries such as Syria, Sudan and Pakistan. However, the system has shown itself often incapable of investigating human-rights violations.

Indeed there is much consensus among Saint Lucians that the country’s justice system is broken – that much has become clear in recent years given the limited resources made available to foster and administer justice, amid hundreds of unresolved murders. And even as crime has become a real problem here, more problematic is the actual investigation of crime, and the swift dispensation of justice. It’s not too much of a stretch to say that people’s confidence in the justice system at this point is shaken. The courts are breathtakingly slow and underfunded – and even more appalling is the fact that prisoners languish in prison, remaining on remand for as long as a decade. Within any criminal justice system, protecting the rights of remand prisoners should be a priority, not an afterthought. Besides, international conventions dictate that a person is entitled to a trial within the shortest possible time.

Furthermore, there are other critical issues such as the way we treat the mentally ill and the scourge of rape and domestic violence that should be of urgent concern to us. To be sure, 2015 was not a good year for human rights as the country recorded an unprecedented number of rapes and other sexual offences including the depraved violation of a ninety-seven year old woman.

The staggering level of verbal abuse meted out to Ms Mary Francis, our Florence Nightingale of local human rights, are clear indications that quite a few of our citizens are yet to understand the distinctive idiom of human rights and how they work in practice. The constant vitriolic attacks by the “angry mob” on both radio and TV call-in programmes are perhaps an attestation to the lack of wisdom in crowds in our neck of the woods. In a country known for its divisiveness and ovine docility, it certainly takes a certain chutzpah for one courageous human rights attorney to challenge the status quo. Yet, I believe the causes she champions are just and right – and civil society needs to provide her with more support to undertake this important civic duty, as human rights transcend all political, economic and social boundaries.

Above all, it’s such a great pity that more lawyers are not involved in providing legal aid and in protecting the rights and dignity of the vulnerable. Against all odds – and undaunted by all the abusive language, Ms Francis has vowed to continue championing for change – a welcome silver lining in a gathering storm cloud. On several occasions she has called for more independent investigations into human rights abuses and more recently, for the establishment of a National Human Rights Commission to safeguard the human rights of individuals. According to Ms Francis, “speedy remedy and accountability for human rights violations would help restore confidence in the justice system.” Without a doubt, she is right and our young democracy needs more people of her ilk.

Even so, the failure to address our human rights issues have resulted in our island being place under greater international scrutiny and pressure. Last year, the United Nations conducted its review of Saint Lucia’s human rights situation and recommended a few measures in order to strengthen the island’s human rights legislative framework and establish an independent national rights monitoring mechanism. The global body has, among other things, called on Saint Lucia to do more “to further protect women and children from domestic violence, to implement gender equality polices, to adopt legislation prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, and to fully prosecute all perpetrators of sexual and domestic violence.”

Only recently, and much to my dismay, we were lectured by three foreign ambassadors representing the EU, Britain and France, about the failings of our justice system. Now I imagine that not only would these foreign powers have been told in other jurisdictions to take the plank out of their own eyes before worrying about the splinter in other countries, they would also have been accused of meddling in the affairs of a sovereign state. Notwithstanding the fact that the three ambassadors overstepped the mark by interfering in Saint Lucia’s internal affairs and that the traditional champions of human rights – Europe and the United States – have themselves floundered, they are unfortunately right about the sad state of our country’s justice system.

Apropos champions of human rights, where are the independent civil society organizations (NGOs, NPOs and the church) to demand swift justice and judicial accountability? So much for the primacy of independent thought and the life of the mind!

For comments, write to [email protected] – Clement Wulf-Soulage is a Management Economist, Published Author and Former University Lecturer.


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    After reading this sound and accurate depiction of the decrepit state of our Human Rights condition, a profound feeling of sadness overcame me, and I was forced to step-back to reflect upon the many questions your eloquent article invoked.

    I have too often said that the vicious ignorance perpetuated by the Church is one of the main pillars of Sexism and Corruption, encouraging the hatred of the Woman as the source of Evil’s entry into the lives of the Human Being. We are taught by these misogynist how God Cursed the Woman in perpetuity for no reason other than she was born a Female, and therefore has to suffer during the nine months of gestation because she had sex with a Boa Constrictor. This coupled with the perverted acts of Celibacy advocated against the opposite sexes by these demonic practitioners of Homosexuality and Pedophilia has been the main contributor to the savagery and wickedness that is ubiquitous on this island.

    One of the more loathsome actions from my perspective is seeing how much people induldge in the savagery of White Male worship, even with the best minds like our sister, Mary Francis, and our beautiful sister, Paulet Louis falling on their knees worshiping in that bastion of Racism, Sexism, and Savagery on Micoud Street, Where God is a Naked Caucasian male, whose flesh and blood must be consumed by them, like cannibals to obtain eternal life. One would think that these beautiful and intelligent Original Creation of the woman would not participate in such disgraceful conduct, but with miseducated Negroes like Rick John Wayne continually trumpeting his allegiance to this White Male God, we all witnessed the abuse and degradation of a young female in Soufriere, being kicked and brutalized in the streets, while the savages instigated her dismemberment – “FOOTEAI KUT PWEN !! FOO TAIY KUT PWEN, PEYTAI CHOOYE !!” was the cry of the Lucian Savages. Yet none of these savages have been arrested and subjected to a Public Flogging, especially the ones inciting this riot.

    One would think that there was nothing to top this savage atrocity, but this Negress Idiot Sarah Flood, who was herself brutalized by the weightlifter John Wayne, comes on and blames “SOCIAL MEDIA” for the assault on this young woman – WTF ? are you people serious ?? If this does not convey the magnitude of our insanity, the failure to arrest Vernon Pinochet “Wilful Blindness” Francois and his Cabal of Killer Cops, now roaming the island committing more murders should have sounded the alarm.






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