Saint Lucia's Constitution was adopted in 1978 but has since been amended a number of times. It provides for fundamental human rights and refers to the national police force, but does not explicitly govern its use of force.
Section 1 of the Constitution concerns the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms, which include the rights to life, liberty, security of the person, equality before the law and the protection of the law; and freedom of conscience, of expression and of assembly and association. With respect to the right to life, it is specified that:
A person shall not be regarded as having been deprived of his or her life in contravention if he or she dies as the result of the use, to such extent and in such circumstances as are permitted by law, of such force as is reasonably justifiable—
(a) for the defence of any person from violence or for the defence of property;
(b) in order to effect a lawful arrest or to prevent the escape of a person lawfully detained;
(c) for the purpose of suppressing a riot, insurrection or mutiny; or
(d) in order to prevent the commission by that person of a criminal offence,
or if he or she dies as the result of a lawful act of war.1978 Constitution of Saint Lucia (as amended).
This seemingly allows use of firearms to defend property, which is not permitted under international law.
Section 5 of the Constitution stipulates that: "No person shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading punishment or other treatment."
|1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR)||Signatory|
|ICCPR Optional Protocol 1||N/A|
|1984 Convention against Torture (CAT)||Not party|
|Competence of CAT Committee to receive individual complaints||N/A|
|CAT Optional Protocol 1||N/A|
|1998 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court||State Party|
|1948 Charter of the Organization of American States||State Party|
|1969 Inter-American Convention on Human Rights||Not party|
|Competence of Inter-American Court on Human Rights||N/A|
Police Use of Force
The 1965 Police Act (as amended) governs the actions of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force. The Act does not contain detailed provisions on use of force, though it does recognise that a police officer "commits an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine not exceeding $240, or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 6 months who ... uses unnecessary violence to or ill-uses any prisoner".S. 26(2)(e), 1965 Police Act (as amended).Moreover, the Regulations annexed to the Police Act declare that it is a disciplinary offence to use
any unnecessary violence to any prisoner or other person with whom he or she may be brought into contact in the execution of his or her duty.S. 3(h)(ii), Regulations, 1965 Police Act.
The Police Complaints Commission (as revised in 2013) serves as the oversight body for the Royal St. Lucia Police Force. In May 2018, Acting Superintendent Anthony Bernard Gaston, Officer in Charge of the Police Complaints Unit, said that the Unit would continue to work "without bias" when carrying out its duties:
We remain committed and resolute to ensuring that the conduct of police officers, bad conduct in particular, does not go unnoticed or unchecked and that we are as law enforcement officers, are subject to all of the laws of Saint Lucia, the procedures and rules that we need to follow. The unit will leave no stone unturned to ensure that we resolve matters and investigate complaints made by the members of the public fully, and we will continue to ensure that we maintain the good image of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force in the future.
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
Saint Lucia is party to very few human rights treaties. In particular, it has not adhered to the 1966 Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) or the 1984 Convention against Torture. As a party to the 1992 Convention on the Rights of the Child, it last came before the Committee on the Rights of the Child in 2014. In its Concluding Observations, however, the Committee did not address police use of force against children.
Saint Lucia is not a state party to the 1969 Inter-American Convention on Human Rights.
A 2015 report by investigators from the Jamaica Constabulary Force concluded that officers from the Royal St. Lucia Police Force had effectively operated death squads, killing suspected criminals in 2010-11 during a security drive called Operation Restore Confidence, which sought to reduce violent crime and boost tourism. The police then covered up the killings, planting weapons at the scene.
In May 2018, the Government of Saint Lucia said there was no "quick fix" to the alleged extrajudicial killings by members of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force. This followed concern expressed by human rights attorney, Mary Francis, that the probe into the alleged extra-judicial killings by police officers between 2010 and 2011 was still dragging on.
Severin v. Attorney General (2011)
In this case, a Justice of the High Court found that police officers had used unnecessary force against the claimant. Justice Belle stated that:
The intention of the police squad in my view, at the time, was not to effect an arrest but to discipline Mr. Severin and deter him from any possible intended threatening behaviour towards a fellow police officer. The facts do not support the argument that the police officers went direcHy to find and arrest Mr. Severin. The kind of violence reported by the Claimant's witness Mr. Patrick betrays the true intention of the officers at the time. Nevertheless these were acts carried out by police offices in the course of their duties.
... Even if the excessive use of physical force followed words which arguably could have made police officers uncomfortable, on the facts there was nothing said which warranted this kind of retaliation.