The assistance that was granted by the St Lucian Government to host BVI prisoners following the damages to the Territory’s only correctional facility in Balsams Ghut is being criticized by an Opposition Member in St Lucia.
Back in September, 21 prisoners were transferred to St Lucia. These represented persons convicted of serious offences such as murder, attempted murder, and illegal possession of firearm. However, the generosity by the St. Lucian Government to house these persons was berated by a member of the St Lucia Labour Party, and Parliamentary Representative for Laborie, Alva Baptiste.
In an interview with MBC Television Saint Lucia Mr. Baptiste announced that he disagreed with the offer that was made by his country’s Government to host prisoners from BVI and Turks and Caicos. He said: “I don’t think that should have been our priority and I have been told that some of those prisoners are extremely rude they are extremely disrespectful to the staff at the correctional facility and I don’t think we should develop any tolerance for this type of foolishness.”
As it relates to the BVI prisoners he said that the situation is unique:
“I heard a few people trying to compare the BVI situation to the Grenada one that after the hurricane we took in prisoners from Grenada,” however the Legislator insisted that the two scenarios were not the same.
He noted the cooperation between other OECS member states such as Grenada and St Vincent and St. Lucia; but insisted that it is not the same with the BVI. “Going to the BVI as a St Lucian unless you can show a certain amount of money coming into the BVI you are not going to be allowed entry based on what many St. Lucian’s have told me about going to the BVI,” he said. This comment has been deemed offensive and refuted by members of the BVI community who felt incensed by the remarks of the St. Lucian politician. “Through many decades we have welcomed hundreds of St. Lucians who made the BVI their home; what is being said is politically biased nonsense,” one prominent BV Islander commented.
AS expected, Baptiste further accused the St Lucian Prime Minister of mulling at the feet of a foreign power and stated that diplomacy is not based on some knee-jerk reaction but a thoughtfully calculated goal. He also accused the government of using the offer to host the prisoners as a means to impress the international community.
Meanwhile at a press conference on 10 October, His Excellency Governor Augustus Jaspert told reporters that Cabinet is anticipating that the prisoners may be in St Lucia for a few months: “We transferred 21 prisoners to St Lucia. We are very grateful to St Lucia for their offer of support. The Prison took a hit during the storm and actually needs some time to rebuild…and also secure things for the community. That’s going to take a few months we are working on that now and I estimate in the region of six to nine months,” Governor Jaspert announced.