Saint Lucia
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Sexual Misconduct Allegations Directed at Senior Police Officer

Former Minister Fortuna Belrose
Former Minister Fortuna Belrose

A senior officer within the higher ranks of the Royal St Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) has been targeted by the opposition United Workers Party (UWP) with allegations of sexual misconduct during the course of duty.

Over the past weeks, the matter relating to allegations of sexual misconduct within the RSLPF’s hierarchy has surfaced in local media circles and online platforms but no substantial pronouncements have been made on this issue from official sources.

The UWP Women’s Arm has been the more vocal group requesting that the issue be investigated by the relevant authorities, as “a matter of utmost importance.”  The UWP release further states that the gravity of these allegations cannot be overstated, particularly when they involve multiple sources, including the victims themselves.

“These allegations are deeply concerning and deserving of (a) thorough investigation,” declared the UWP statement.

“The victims have endured fear, embarrassment, and victimization. Even more troubling is the alleged threats and intimidation they received after bravely reporting these incidents.

“We recognize and applaud their immense courage in their attempts to obtain justice and protection,” the release adds.

The UWP group claims that reports of these allegations were made some time ago, but it appears that no action has yet been taken in that regard.

The VOICE was reliably informed that these allegations were made two years ago.

According to the UWP group, this brings into focus “the accountability and integrity of the Royal St Lucia Police Force and calls into question the reporting mechanisms within the Force.”

Furthermore, according to the UWP group, the matter is even more “deeply troubling” as it allegedly involves a high-ranking officer.

Consequently, the opposition group calls on the National Security Minister and the Minister for Home Affairs “to take immediate action to address this matter. An independent and transparent investigation must be conducted to ascertain the veracity of the allegations so that appropriate action can be taken.”

On Thursday, at a press conference, the UWP reiterated its call requesting that the officer in question should step down from his post until the alleged issue is resolved and independently handled.

Former Minister Fortuna Belrose commended the women who came forward with their sexual harassment reports for their courage in a culture that tends to blame or shame victims.

The UWP senior executive member also called for the National Security Minister to step down from his post.

Noting that the Police Welfare Association (PWA) has brought on the complaints on behalf of its members, Belrose urged the Minister for Home Affairs, who she described as a “women’s advocate” to urgently seek relevant advice to initiate an immediate investigation into these allegations.

According to the PWA, it had written then-Police Commissioner Crusita Descartes-Pelius regarding the ‘sexual misconduct’ allegations but received no response.

The PWA’s June 5, 2023, letter, which went viral after appearing on social media, said three of four police officers interviewed confirmed the allegations, while one neither confirmed nor denied.

In addition, the letter indicated that two former Police Commissioners were aware of the sexual misconduct reports.

Belrose contends that it is incumbent upon the Home Affairs Minister to respond to the PWA’s concerns.

“To remain silent or not even acknowledge their concern is truly reprehensible,” she said.

Belrose recalled that with enactment of the Domestic Violence Bill on March 8, 2022 which was greeted with such ‘pomp and ceremony’, several pronouncements were made regarding citizen security.

She said the authorities sought to reassure the public that they were concerned about domestic violence victims and systems would be put in place to hear their grievances.

Meanwhile, in the prelude to these latest developments, PWA President Camron Laure recently called for a sexual harassment policy for the police force.

Speaking on the sidelines of a meeting with regional police welfare associations, he contended: “It is time that women feel safe in the work environment.”

“We will be pushing that agenda here at this conference,” Laure told reporters. The PWA spokesperson said he had spoken to a few of his colleagues on the matter.

Laure asserted: “I’m hoping that… coming out of it, at least we would have some kind of draft policy for our welfare association to present to our commissioner.”