Prime Minister Philip J Pierre is prepared to fall out of favour with certain persons in society due to policy decisions he plans to take to fight against gun violence and crime in general in Saint Lucia.
This much was apparent during Monday’s press briefing at his office on the Castries Waterfront.
Noting that the security and welfare of the citizenry is his major concern at this time Pierre stated that the Royal St Lucia Police Force [RSLPF] will be given “emergency powers” to better tackle the escalating criminal activity affecting the country, especially the gang-related lawless insurgence within the southern communities.
The prime minister said these were some of the “short-term measures” that would be implemented as the government seeks to utilize all available resources to curb this worrisome crime situation. Notably, he added, the authorities will pursue outside intervention to assist with police operations, and in this regard, the Regional Security System [RSS] will be deployed in the southern belt to help deal with the crime issue.
“The crime situation in this country is a cause for concern, it has been a cause for concern for a very long time…and the government has taken steps to deal with that situation,” declared PM Pierre, on the latest strategies to be implemented in the fight against crime…
“What happened in Vieux Fort was unprecedented …we know that a Don got killed in Vieux Fort and there is retaliation,” said the prime minister.
However, he contended, there were certain elements in society, perpetually peddling “mistruths and lies” whether for political or personal gains to tarnish the image of the government
Nevertheless, he said, without having to behave in such hypocritical manner there is no need to “lump all of it together” in the face of the serious crime situation that has been affecting the country.
“Of course it (crime) is something that is not pleasant, and of course it’s something that we must deal with” PM Pierre added. He said persons were being “hypocritical” in their efforts “to try to lump it with the courts” and other judicial entities.
Said Pierre, “We are very concerned and right now we are taking immediate measures to stop it now.
“There will be some short-term measures. We are bringing in the RSS on the ground to help us deal with that issue. Secondly, we are further enhancing the facilities for the police in terms of vehicles and numbers.”
Additionally, stated the prime minister, other measures will be employed in the battle against crime.
“We are going to parliament with emergency legislation to give the police ‘emergency powers’ to suppress crime,” he explained. “While we are doing that, we will look to improve the morale of the police and try to see if we can deal with other issues, with technology, scanners, drones …and finally we are enhancing our social programs for these areas,” Pierre said.
Also, the police will be afforded “more training” and general improvements to their working conditions. “We have started working on the Gros Islet Police Station, and we are working on the Vieux Fort Police Station…but to lump all of this together for political reasons is just hypocrisy,” said Pierre.
He noted: “What happened in Vieux Fort has nothing to do with the courts, has nothing to do with the police station. It is a Don who got killed, and revenge was being taken, retaliatory measures.”
The Castries East MP said due to the “dangerous situation” that has presented itself and the dangers associated with that crime issue, the St Lucia Labour Party (SLP) has not issued a statement on this matter.
Taking issue with what is perceived as the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) spreading innuendos about this current crime situation, the prime minister said that, “on one occasion you hear the leader talking and saying something …and his surrogates, his supporters on their Facebook page are spreading lies and propaganda and the malignment for political reasons.”
In his address to the nation, last Saturday, on the current crime situation, the prime minister noted that among other pertinent issues he planned to meet with representatives from civil society and business leaders to discuss the current situation and seek solutions to the problems.
“We had a meeting with the leaders (last Sunday) and I am heartened with their desire to get the matter under control,” disclosed the country’s National Security Minister.
He added, “I’m heartened that they have agreed to work with the government in immediately (towards) a long-term solution. As is always the government’s position, this thing (crime) is not about politics, this thing will haunt anybody. It has haunted us before and it will haunt us again if we don’t stop it.”
He asserted: “So my job, even though I pay the ultimate political price is to stop it (gun violence/crime in Vieux Fort and other communities) and we have instructed the police to use all legal methods to stop it …because I detest the hypocrisy that’s taking place with that situation.”
Due to the urgency of the situation, the prime minister reiterated that measures will be put in place to effectively deal with the situation.
PM Pierre declared: “What we are doing now, we are taking immediate measures to stop it, using legal means …immediate steps using legal means to stop what’s happening there, we’re going to stop it.”