Saint Lucia: Statistics on crime and crime reporting; availability of state protection for victims and witnesses
|Publisher||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada|
|Publication Date||6 July 2010|
|Citation / Document Symbol||LCA103495.E|
|Cite as||Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Saint Lucia: Statistics on crime and crime reporting; availability of state protection for victims and witnesses, 6 July 2010, LCA103495.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4e43a0922.html [accessed 29 March 2015]|
Sources indicate that the crime rate in Saint Lucia has increased in recent years (Freedom House 2010; IHS Global Insight 23 Jan. 2009; US 1 Mar. 2010; CMC 17 Oct. 2009). Several sources link the problem of violence to drug trafficking (US 1 Mar. 2010; ibid. 19 Oct. 2009; St. Lucia Star 28 Dec. 2009; ibid. 17 Feb. 2010; Jane's 3 Nov. 2009). Other crime includes gang violence (St. Lucia Star 25 May 2010; CMC 17 Oct. 2009), robberies (St. Lucia Star 26 Feb. 2010a; US 19 Oct. 2009), burglaries (CMC 17 Oct. 2009) and kidnappings (St. Lucia Star 16 Feb. 2010). According to Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT), there are high levels of crime and drug activity in the districts of Marchand, Broglie, St. Grass, St. Leslie Land, and Wilton Yard (Canada 28 May 2010).
Sources indicate that Saint Lucia has a population of 171,000 (US 11 Mar. 2010, Para. 1) or 172,000 people (Freedom House 2010). Statistics posted by the United Nations (UN) Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), indicate that Saint Lucia has a rate of 16 intentional homicides per 100,000 population (based on 2007 police statistics); in comparison, Canada has a rate of 1.7 intentional homicides per 100,000 population (based on 2008 statistics) (UN 2008).
Statistics posted on the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) website indicate that there were 27 murders reported in 2007, of which 68 percent have been solved (RSLPF 2007). Of crimes in the category "against the person" which includes threats, assaults, kidnapping, attempted murder, murder and others, there were 2,792 crimes reported in 2007, of which approximately 37 percent have been solved (ibid.). The RSLPF provided the Research Directorate with crime statistics for 2008, which indicate that there were 39 murders in 2008, of which 15 percent have been solved (RSLPF 2008). There were 4,025 crimes reported in the category "against the person," of which approximately 29 percent have been solved (ibid.). For further details on crime statistics for 2007 and 2008, see attachments. Freedom House reports that there were 39 murders in Saint Lucia in 2008 and 33 murders between January and October of 2009 (Freedom House 2010). The Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC) reports that there were 23 killings in Saint Lucia between 1 January 2010 and 31 May 2010 (1 June 2010). Some high profile crimes in 2010 include the attempted murder of a magistrate (St. Lucia Star 12 Apr. 2010; CMC 19 Apr. 2010; RSLPF n.d.a), the murder of a 62-year-old grandmother who was shot in the face (IHS Global Insight 1 June 2010), and the murder of a police officer (St. Lucia Star 26 Feb. 2010b).
Sources report that the quantity of drugs being trafficked through Saint Lucia has been increasing in recent years (US 1 Mar. 2010; Jane's 3 Nov. 2009). According to the International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) 2010, more drugs are also staying in Saint Lucia, leading to increased violence (US 1 Mar. 2010). Several sources indicate that the Caribbean region is a transhipment zone for cocaine going from South America to North America and Europe (ibid.; St. Lucia Star 17 Feb. 2010; ECLAC 19 May 2008, 7). Freedom House reports that Saint Lucia has the third highest number of drug mules caught travelling to the United Kingdom (UK) from the Caribbean (2010). A former Jamaican national security minister, in speaking about the situation of rising crime in Saint Lucia, reportedly stated that drug cartels have more resources than the governments of small island states, so the cartels are able to recruit local gangs and "corrupt" law enforcement and the judiciary (St. Lucia Star 17 Feb. 2010).
The INCSR 2010 states that Saint Lucian authorities seized 792 kg of cocaine in 2007, 21 kg in 2008 and 93 kg in 2009 (US 1 Mar. 2010). In contrast, the Minister of National Security reportedly stated that 665 kg of cocaine were seized in 2009 (CMC 9 May 2010). The INCSR 2010 notes that 534 kg of marijuana were seized in 2008 and 540 kg in 2009 (US 1 Mar. 2010). In addition, the INCSR 2010 indicates that marijuana is cultivated on Saint Lucia and accounts for 20 percent of the local market (ibid.). According to the INCSR 2010, there were 318 drug-related arrests in Saint Lucia in 2008 and 270 drug-related arrests in 2009 (ibid.).
Some sources suggest that criminal deportees being returned from the UK, the United States (US) and Canada contribute to the high level of crime in Saint Lucia (CMC 9 May 2010; ECLAC 19 May 2008, 7-8). According to a report by the Council of Hemispheric Affairs (COHA), an independent research organization based in Washington, DC (COHA n.d.), "hardened" criminals that return from the US to their home islands in the Caribbean contribute to the proliferation of organized crime; at a 2007 conference of Caribbean nations and the US, this was viewed as one of the most problematic issues facing Caribbean society (ibid. 27 July 2007).
In 2009, Transparency International (TI) ranked Saint Lucia as 22nd out of 180 countries in the perceived level of public-sector corruption in the country (TI 2009). According to the US Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009, Saint Lucian law prescribes criminal penalties for official corruption and, although cases were reported during the year, the government was effective in implementing the law (US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 4). Freedom House similarly notes that incidents of official corruption in 2009 were suitably handled through the legal system (2010).
According to Country Reports 2009, the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) has 826 officers, including a coast guard and a special services unit with some paramilitary training (US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 1d).The INCSR 2010 and the Saint Lucian Prime Minister indicate that the RSLPF has limited resources to combat drug trafficking and the resulting violent crime (US 1 Mar. 2010; CMC 1 June 2010). However, Saint Lucia government authorities state that combating crime is a top priority (ibid.; ibid. 19 Apr. 2010; Saint Lucia 1 Feb. 2010; ibid. 26 Jan. 2010).
St. Lucia Star, a local media source, reports that a new forensics lab opened in Saint Lucia in December 2009 (23 Dec. 2009). Government authorities expect that getting forensic results will be faster and cheaper since samples will no longer have to be sent to England through a costly and slow process (St. Lucia Star 23 Dec. 2009). According to the article, DNA testing would begin in January 2010, and the lab would be fully accredited in six months time (ibid.). Corroborating information could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.
Media sources report that on 30 May 2010, Prime Minister Stephenson King announced new strategies to combat crime, including replacing the Commissioner of Police and starting 24-hour police patrols in problematic areas (CMC 1 June 2010; IHS Global Insight 1 June 2010). The CMC reports plans for additional restructuring of the RSLPF and notes that the Prime Minister has started a cabinet task force on crime, which he chairs, as part of the national strategy to address crime (CMC 1 June 2010).
Media and government sources report other 2010 plans to improve Saint Lucia's capacity to fight crime, including: installing closed circuit televisions in Castries (Saint Lucia 17 Mar. 2010; ibid. 1 Feb. 2010); acquiring new vehicles and boats for the RSLPF (St. Lucia Star 4 Feb. 2010); developing a program to monitor returned criminal deportees (CMC 9 May 2010); and upgrading police equipment (St. Lucia 17 Mar. 2010). The RSLPF reports that they installed a digital video recorder in one police vehicle, enabling police officers to view and record suspicious activities; the RSLPF plan to install them in all police vehicles (RSLPF n.d.b).
Freedom House and Country Reports 2009 indicate that there have been complaints of physical abuse committed by police officers (Freedom House 2010; US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 1c). Sources indicate that Saint Lucia has a unit which investigates citizen complaints against officers (World Police Encyclopedia 2006, 707; US 11 Mar. 2010, Sec. 1d). However, according to Country Reports 2009, human rights activists characterized the process as "ineffective" (ibid.).
Witness and Victim Protection
According to the Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, Saint Lucia is developing a witness protection program and facilities for witnesses to give statements and video evidence in court, rather than appear in person (Saint Lucia 17 Mar. 2010). Modification of the witness protection program is reportedly one of the RSLPF's priorities (ibid. 1 Feb. 2010).
The Assistant Police Commissioner, as reported by St. Lucia Star, indicated that the RSLPF does not have the resources to assign officers to protect every witness (St. Lucia Star 21 May 2010). He stated that witnesses are reluctant to come forward and testify for fear of retaliation, but that in reality there have not been any known repercussions to witnesses who came forward (ibid.). This information could not be corroborated among the source consulted by the Research Directorate.
In 22 June 2010 correspondence with the Research Directorate, an inspector at the RSLPF stated that witness protection is a "burning issue" in the region and that the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), an organization aiming to enhance co-operation among Commonwealth Caribbean countries (CARICOM n.d.), is working towards developing a unified protection program whereby witnesses and judiciary members from one CARICOM country could go to another when in need of protection (RSLPF 22 June 2010). However, he noted that this plan was only in the discussion stage, with nothing certain about when or if it will be implemented (ibid.). He stated that Saint Lucia is informally protecting witnesses through safe-houses when necessary, but that it is not a "sustainable method" (ibid.).
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 sources consulted in researching this Information Request.
Canada. 28 May 2010. Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT). "Travel Report: Saint Lucia."
Caribbean Community (CARICOM). N.d. "The Caribbean Community."
Caribbean Media Corporation (CMC). 1 June 2010. "Shake Up: St. Lucia PM Announces Restructure of Police Force."
_____. 9 May 2010. "St. Lucia to Monitor Criminal Deportees from UK, USA, Canada." (BBC Monitoring Americas 10 May 2010/Factiva)
_____. 19 April 2010. "UK Queen's Representative Calls on St. Lucia's Citizens to Help Tackle Crime." (BBC Monitoring Americas 20 Apr. 2010/Factiva)
_____. 17 October 2009. "St. Lucia Opposition Leader Calls for Answers on Crime." (BBC Monitoring Americas 18 Oct. 2009/Factiva)
Council on Hemispheric Affairs (COHA). 27 July 2007. Andrew Carmona. "CARICOM and Washington Commission a New Chapter in US-Caribbean Relations."
_____. N.d. "About COHA."
Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC). 19 May 2008. Exploring Policy Linkages Between Poverty, Crime and Violence: A Look at Three Caribbean States.
Freedom House. 2010. "Saint Lucia." Freedom in the World 2010. <<http://www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2010&country=7907> [Accessed 18 May 2010]
IHS Global Insight. 1 June 2010. Irenea Renuncio Mateos. "Government Launches New Strategy to Combat Rising Crime in St. Lucia." (Factiva)
_____. 23 January 2009. Marion Barbel. "PM Warns of Effects of Crime on St. Lucian Economy." (Factiva)
Jane's Information Group. 3 November 2009. "Saint Lucia." Jane's Sentinel Country Risk Assessments - Central America and the Caribbean.
Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF). 22 June 2010. Correspondence with an inspector.
_____. 2008. "Crime Statistics for the Months of Jan. - Dec., 2008." (Provided by RSLPF)
_____. 2007. "Crime Statistics for the year Ending 1-12, 2007."
_____. N.d.a. "Magistrate Shot by Masked Men."
_____. N.d.b. Trevor Constantine. "Police Vehicles Go Hi Tech."
Saint Lucia. 17 March 2010. "National Security Ministry Making Strides to Stem Criminal Activities."
_____. 1 February 2010. "Royal Saint Lucia Police Force Reports Success."
_____. 26 January 2010. "Government Will Do All That It Must to Curtail Crime Says Security Minister."
St. Lucia Star [Castries]. 25 May 2010. Jason Sifflet. "Semi-Automatic Week! Teen Injured in Castries Shooting." http://stluciastar.com/content/archives/13557 [Accessed 28 May 2010]
_____. 21 May 2010. Alisha Ally. "ACP Says Public Mistrust a Cop-Out."
_____. 12 April 2010. Alisha Ally. "Magistrate Shot!"
_____. 26 February 2010a. Alisha Ally. "'Gros Islet a Haven for Drugs and Crime' Says Town Council Chairman."
_____. 26 February 2010b. Kayra Williams. "Cop Gunned Down!"
_____. 17 February 2010. Jason Sifflet. "Former JA Crime Minister Says Drugs at the Heart of Crime in St. Lucia."
_____. 16 February 2010. "Maryanna Williams Tells Us Why We Should All Fight Crime." << http://stluciastar.com/content/archives/10984> [Accessed 28 May 2010]
_____. 4 February 2010. Toni Nicholas. "A Nation in Fear of Crime Police Pledge to Bring Peace."
_____. 28 December 2009. Jason Sifflet. "Cop Calls for Regional Coast Guard."
_____. 23 December 2009. Jason Sifflet. "Forensics Lab Opens."
Transparency International (TI). 2009. "Corruption Perceptions Index 2009."
United Nations (UN). 2008. UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). "Homicide Statistics, Criminal Justice Sources - Latest Available Year (2003-2008)."
United States (US). 11 March 2010. Department of State. "Saint Lucia." Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2009.
_____. 1 March 2010. Department of State. "Eastern Caribbean." International Narcotics Control Strategy Report (INCSR) 2009.
_____. 19 October 2009. Department of State. "St. Lucia. Country Specific Information."
World Police Encyclopedia. 2006. "Saint Lucia." Edited by Dilip K. Das. London: Routledge.
Additional Sources Consulted
Oral Sources: Attempts to reach the Ministry for Home Affairs and National Security were unsuccessful within time constraints.
Internet sources, including: Amnesty International (AI), Canadian Foundation for the Americas, Caribbean Community (CARICOM), European Country of Origin Information Network (ecoi.net), Human Rights Watch, Justice Studies Center of the Americas, Office of the United Nations (UN) High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Refworld.
Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF). 2008. "Crime Statistics for the Months of Jan. - Dec., 2008." 6 pages.
_____. 2007. "Crime Statistics for the year Ending 1-12, 2007." 6 pages.