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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Police deny “death squad” and hit list

CASTRIES, St Lucia, CMC - Police Commissioner Vernon Francois has denied the existence of a “hit list” of notorious criminals and the presence of a “death squad” within the Royal St. Lucia Police Force. 

In the past month, the Special Services Unit (SSU) has shot and killed five suspects in an unprecedented crack down on crime referred to as “Operation Restore Confidence”.

“There is definitely not a death or black squad as is rumored, neither do we operate with a hit list based on the interpretation that is given of a hit list, but obviously in our work as police officers we have profiled a number of persons who have come to the notice of Police as serious criminals.

“So we do have information as it relates to persons who we consider serious criminals that we have to deal with here. But if it is being said that we are specifically targeting people that is not the case at all,” Francois said.

In defending the action of the law enforcement officials, the Police Commissioner said that the lawmen were simply carrying out their duties and sometimes their lives are also placed on the line when they come into direct confrontation with armed and seasoned criminals.

His statement followed the death of 37-year-old Ronald Sylvester, alias “Bage” of East Castries. Sylvester,  who was a suspect in a number of homicides and had several cases some involving firearms pending in court, was shot earlier this week when his car failed to stop at a police check point a few yards from his home.

Francois said that all police killings are being investigated and that action would be taken if the police are found to have used excessive force in dealing with the situation.

“At present the system is working well, because at present we do have police officers before the High Court and matters have been sent to inquest, so every police action is being reviewed and to my mind there is no specific need for an official inquiry, once the system in place continue to work,” Francois said.

But, human rights attorney, Mary Francis, said she does not have any confidence in an inquiry where the police would be investigating themselves.
She said that while she is fully supportive of the work done by the lawmen, she wanted an independent inquiry.

“Especially in cases where we hear persons being killed at the hands of the police. I think it is absolutely important and necessary that an inquest be held for each of the five persons that have been killed last month,” she said.

Local television Wednesday showed a former murder suspect displaying a list which he claimed contained his name and photograph as well as 45 others, some of whom have already been killed in alleged gun battles with the police.

But the Police Commissioner said that it was normal for police officers to have a mug shot of suspects being looked for and that it does not constitute a hit list.


  1. I do not find the existence of a list of wanted criminals extraordinary at all, worlwide law enforcement officers, customs and immigration officers are expected to have such a list. The question that really wants answering is how one of these criminals actually was in possession of this list. I am certain that inquiries into the deaths of alleged criminals at the hands of the police will show that in pursuing their duties with extra vigour ( as we the people have asked for ) will show that when in danger the alleged criminals , out of desperation , have reacted in such a way that caused the police to shoot them.

  2. You need to get your head screwed on straight.

    Stop being a hypocrite. You know as well as everyone else does that the list has nothing to do with wanted criminals. The actions of the Police speak for themselves. Bottom line is that the Police kill with impunity and the so called Constitution of Saint Lucia enables them to act thus. The problem is compounded by people like you who take barbaric delight in watching Police exterminate young men whom they think have no right to be part of society based on alleged crimes committed by these young men. Who gives Police the right to play Jury Judge and executioner? are they so coward and incompetent that they have to resort to that kind of behavior to prevent crime? The so called criminals have no right to take life, but that extends to the Police too! Shuffle your reptilian brain cells and see the thing for what it is. What the Police are doing is unacceptable to civilized society. While we want to stem the tide of crime, we do not accept bloodshed as a remedy. Instilling fear into people will not solve crime. It creates more animosity, breeds further hatred and cause more chaos. But then people like you will not understand that...You are far too busy burying your head in the sand with your bottom up to realize the danger in what the Police are doing. Of course you have nothing to worry about because when the Police kill suspects or "wanted persons" you can sleep better in your bed. How mus dumber can you get?