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Saint Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet

Proposed “High-Risk” Prisoner Transfer, a “Humanitarian” Effort or Security Threat?

As part of a regional effort to provide relief to Caribbean territories ravaged by Hurricane Irma, the government of Saint Lucia has offered to temporarily hold prisoners from both the Turks and Caicos Islands [TCI] and the British Virgin Islands [BVI].

BVI prison damaged by Hurricane Irma

Saint Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet previously confirmed to local press of an agreement with TCI to take in three [3] inmates. On September 12, the United Kingdom based Telegraph news agency reported obtaining ‘leaked’ Cabinet notes that indicate Saint Lucia had also agreed to hold 40 ‘high-risk’ prisoners who had been recently recaptured in the BVI after a Hurricane Irma jailbreak.

The Bordelais Correctional Facility [BCF] is the primary penal complex in Saint Lucia. Maximum capacity at BCF is 450 inmates. Back in January 2016, the inmate population stood at total of 607.As of June 2017, the numbers were down but remained above maximum capacity at 496.

Bordelais Correctional Facility

Overcrowding at BCF is a problem that stretches back more than a decade.

On September 13th, the Office of the Prime Minister released a statement in an attempt to allay public concern about the prison transfer.

“The Prime Minister has assured that the transfer will be carefully worked out with the British providing support and will not pose a threat to the people of Saint Lucia… I [Prime Minister Chastanet] have consulted with the Commissioner of Police and the Minister for Security, as well as with the staff of Bordelais. The initial inventory is that if needs be on a temporary basis we have the capacity to house fifty (50) prisoners. In this instance we are only bringing in three prisoners at the first request and those prisoners are going to be coming in from Turks and Caicos of prisoners.”

 

Saint Lucia Prime Minister Allen Chastanet

Speaking on the sidelines of a Parliament Sitting on September 12, Prime Minister Chastanet expressed confidence that the decision to take in the prisoners would garner humanitarian consensus amongst the public. [Watch video]

Hurricane Irma has left an estimated US$12.75 billion dollar price tag for damages after the storm ravaged parts of the Caribbean in September. Barbuda, Turks and Caicos Islands and parts of the British Virgin Islands have been worst affected by Hurricane Irma.

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