United States criticizes St Lucia over alleged extra-judicial deaths

Wed Jan 13, 2016 12:37am EST
 
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By Sarah Peter

CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA (Reuters) - The United States criticized the government of the Caribbean island nation St Lucia on Tuesday for failing to prosecute police accused of keeping death-lists and killing suspected criminals during a misguided campaign to attract tourists.

Twelve people were fatally shot between 2010 and 2011 under a previous government dealing with a crime wave it believed was damaging the tourism industry that drives the economy of the tiny nation famed for verdant mountains and pristine beaches.

The government of Prime Minister Kenny Anthony has made “no meaningful progress” towards criminal prosecution in the 10 months since the investigators from Jamaica delivered a report on the killings, the U.S. embassy for Barbados and the eastern Caribbean said in a statement.

The embassy commended St. Lucia for introducing a new "use of force" policy designed to help protect human rights, and praised the police for taking rights training, but said the government needed to do more to uphold the rule of law.

After the killings, the United States suspended assistance to the police department on the island of 163,000 inhabitants and top police officers have been barred from traveling to the United States.

In parts of the report made public by Anthony last year, the investigators concluded police had worked from a hit-list and staged shootouts in several of the killings.

Anthony previously admitted he saw such a list while he was in the opposition.

(Editing by Frank Jack Daniel and Michael Perry)