Last Updated: Friday, 27 May 2016, 08:49 GMT

Saint Lucia: Update to LCA41520.E of 25 April 2003 on domestic violence, including police response to complaints (April 2003 - May 2004)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 25 May 2004
Citation / Document Symbol LCA42712.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Saint Lucia: Update to LCA41520.E of 25 April 2003 on domestic violence, including police response to complaints (April 2003 - May 2004), 25 May 2004, LCA42712.E, available at: [accessed 29 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

A gender relations officer at the Ministry of Home Affairs and Gender Relations, in Castries, provided the following information in a 13 May 2004 telephone interview. While it appeared that more women were reporting violent incidents, a nationwide public awareness campaign on domestic violence might have played a role in inflating the number of cases reported in 2003. In addition, because of a research deficit, the gender relations office has had difficulty in determining whether domestic violence has increased since April 2003. According to the officer's opinion, however, the domestic violence situation has been about the same during the period of April 2003 to May 2004.

With regard to police response, while there has been some progress, the police still view domestic violence as a private matter and they are sometimes reluctant to get involved. When the police do get involved, many victims do not follow-up with their case, eventually dropping the complaint because they are "fed up" with the problem. Nevertheless, the officer pointed out that with the amount of gender sensitivity training provided to all levels of the police, officers should be better than they are now in responding to domestic violence complaints.

Roberta Clarke, a representative of the United Nations Development Fund for Women in the Caribbean noted that although St. Lucia has undertaken a number of initiatives to address domestic violence, such as increased police training and the creation of shelters, what is in fact needed is a change in culture where there is peace and equality between men and women (BBC 5 May 2004). High Court Judge Adrian Saunders explained that in addition to legislative progress on issues of domestic violence, there must be a corresponding improvement in organizational and administrative structures in order to facilitate a victim's access to the judicial process (ibid.).

Country Reports 2003 provided the following statistics related to domestic violence: the police domestic violence unit reported 31 domestic violence cases as of September 2003, the St. Lucia Crisis Centre, a local NGO that assists victims of domestic violence, reported "35 cases of domestic violence, including physical, emotional and sexual abuse" as of August 2003, and the Women's Support Centre, a government supported shelter for victims of abuse, "received 105 crisis calls and offered residential services to 24 clients and 27 children" in 2003 (25 Feb. 2004). Country Reports 2003 also noted that police were indecisive when responding to domestic violence calls even though the judiciary did make efforts to act against abuse towards women (ibid.). Spurred by public concern for issues related to violence against women, Freedom in the World 2003 reported, without specifying particular examples, that the government of St. Lucia and advocacy groups made advancements in protecting domestic violence victims (Freedom House 17 June 2003).

In a February 2004 national government press release, Marcia Lesmond, Manager of the Family Law and Domestic Violence Reform Project, reported on the progress of said initiative, stating that the project was presently involved in public consultations across the country (Saint Lucia 6 Feb. 2004). Lesmond stated that the consultations would provide citizens a forum with which to voice their concerns about the proposed reforms (ibid.). As of 6 February 2004, consultations had been carried out in the communities of Anse-La-Raye, Canaries, Soufriere, Dennery and Monchy (ibid.).

The Ministry of Home Affairs and Gender Relations announced in December 2003 that it planned to introduce Community Response Teams in order to address domestic violence across the country (St. Lucia 10 Dec. 2003). Composed of volunteers trained to assist victims and aggressors, members of the proposed teams would be instructed in mediation, conflict resolution and counselling, and would act as a liaison between the victim and community services (ibid.). Sponsored by CIDA's Gender Equity Fund, the project would start with six training workshops for 36 participants from Anse-La-Raye, Canaries, Dennery, Laborie, Choiseul and Gros Islet who would then return to these communities to begin work (ibid.).

Please see the entry for Saint Lucia in the 27 February 2003 UN Special Rapporteur report on violence against women for a background summary of the country's legislation, policies and programmes addressing domestic violence at:

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim for refugee protection. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.


BBC Caribbean. 5 May 2004. "Lucians Fight Domestic Violence." [Accessed 11 May 2004]

Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2003. 25 February 2004. "Saint Lucia." United States, Department of State. Washington DC. [Accessed 12 May 2004]

Freedom House. 17 June 2003. Freedom in the World 2003. "Saint Lucia." [Accessed 12 May 2004]

Saint Lucia. 13 May 2004. Ministry of Home Affairs and Gender Relations, Castries. Telephone interview with a gender relations officer.

____. 6 February 2004. Press Release. "OECS Pressing Ahead with Family Law and Domestic Violence Initiative." [Accessed 12 May 2004]

____. 10 December 2003. Press Release. "Community Response Teams - An Initiative to Mitigate Domestic Violence." [Accessed 12 May 2004]

Additional Sources Consulted

The Saint Lucia Crisis Centre did not respond to information requested within time constraints.

Women's Support Centre did not respond to information requested within time constraints.

Internet sites: Amnesty International, Freedom House, Human Rights Internet, Human Rights Watch, Inter-American Commission of Women, Justice Studies Center of the Americas, Latin American and Caribbean Committee for the Defence of Women's Rights (CLADEM), United Nations Women Watch, World News Connection/Dialog.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

Search Refworld