Gangsters’ Paradise: Should tourists boycott St Lucia?

The beautiful island of St Lucia is undoubtedly a paradise, one that draws thousands of visitors every year. But the face of paradise carries an ugly scar. St Lucia is in the midst of a violent crime epidemic and has one of the worst murder rates in the world. Drugs and other forms of gangland activity drives much of this activity and the culture of violence that has gripped St Lucia as a result makes much of island a no-go area for visitors.


While the Justice for Roger campaign was set up to help attain justice for Roger Pratt, a British tourist who was murdered in St Lucia almost five years ago, and we’ve highlighted other cases of rape, assault and the murder of visitors to St Lucia, we’ve always been mindful that locals bare the brunt of St Lucia’s violent streak.

This has never been more true. Young St Lucian men are attacked and murdered with alarming regularity on the island and with tensions becoming more apparent, the question is raised once more: can St Lucia be considered a safe tourist destination?

The latest statistics from the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force show that crime levels have also increased by three percent in 2018, and at the time of writing, there had been 26 homicides this year. On an island with such a small population, this rate of killing makes St Lucia one of the most dangerous places on the planet.

These factors have led prominent figures on the island to speak out about the prevalence of St Lucian gang issues. The former National Security Minister, Keith Mondesir, attributes current levels of violent crime to a lack of 'basic policing'. He believes that the absence of a visible police presence in the communities most associated with gangland activity has caused the authorities to lose touch with local people.

Gang culture is now a dominant form of life in St Lucia, and increasing levels of gang warfare has two obvious repercussions for St Lucia’s justice system.

Firstly, these cases are hard to prosecute as witnesses are hesitant to disclose information for fear of reprisals against themselves and their families. In June of this year, a series of high-profile attacks were cited as skirmishes in an ongoing gang war between criminals in the Vieux-Fort and Castries areas. Reports suggest that the police were unable to make any real progress in their investigations, in part because they struggled to get witness statements.

Secondly, St Lucia now finds itself in a position where unsolved crimes are now backing up at a rate that the courts cannot handle. Even the most open and shut cases may not be heard for many years.

This backlog of cases has undoubtedly affected justice for Roger. The four young men that were arrested (and then confessed) within days of Roger’s murder almost five years ago remain in jail and have still not had their day in court.

We are far from alone. British pensioner Gloria Greenwood was murdered on St Lucia almost seven years ago now. A suspect was arrested shortly afterwards and despite more than fifty preliminary court hearings and adjournments later, the St Lucia authorities seem no closer to delivering justice for Gloria. How much sooner could this matter, or Roger’s case, have been settled had the courts not been bogged down by years of violent crimes and other gangland activity.

And there is also the case of Oliver Gobat, a British businessman who was found murdered in St Lucia in April 2014. The case put into the hands of British authorities in 2017 due to the lack of progress made by St Lucian police. There have been suggestions that the Oliver was a direct victim of the gangland violence that operates unchallenged in St Lucia.

Now, known gangs may not have been responsible all of these cases, but on an island where pretty much everybody comes into contact with the impact of gang violence on a frequent basis, perhaps we should not be surprised that people become desensitised to violence and more likely to use it.

These three cases are not alone, forming just a tiny fraction of a great many that have suffered from years of police and judicial neglect, caused by the authorities being swamped by the volume of ongoing gang related investigations.

With gang violence becoming increasingly common, the absence of a plan of action from the authorities in St Lucia is keenly felt. People are beginning to beg the question: what is the future for the tourist destination if the safety of its inhabitants and visitors cannot be ensured?

The number of cases to be tried will surely only increase as the streets of St Lucia dance to the tune of drug dealers and gangsters, rather than rule of law and order.

Solutions for St Lucia’s ills

St Lucia needs to invest in its police force and ensure they are focused on the biggest problems facing the island. Drugs and gangland crime are a major part of the problems facing St Lucia, and St Lucia needs to address these head on.

Secondly, St Lucia needs to strengthen its judicial system with the additional capacity and capability required to ensure justice is done in a timely and efficient manner for everyone.

It makes no sense for people facing minor charges to be held for months and even years on end to face trial. That will breeds resentment, harms rehabilitation efforts and increases the chances of people committing more serious crimes in the future.  The system should be streamlined to enable these cases to be dealt with quickly and allow resources to be focused on more serious offences.

Thirdly, there needs to be a coordinated effort aimed at reducing violent crime in St Lucia. It is in everyone’s interest for St Lucia’s crime epidemic to end and the island’s reputation to be restored on the world stage. There needs to be a zero-tolerance attitude towards violent crime and St Lucian’s need to trust that the police will act on information they provide if it is to be safe and prosperous again.

Clearly there is a cost to making such radical improvements. A start would be to divert some of the millions of dollars spent on marketing St Lucia to making the changes that would benefit everyone – St Lucian residents and tourists alike.


Comments

  1. I do not believe they should. Crimr is found in every society. Tourist get a wonderful exoeriexpe here as testified by many on major tourist magazines.

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  2. bruh this article is pure fabrication crime takes place every where and saint Lucia does not have the worst murder rate in the world ..don`t try to try to bring down an entire country because some unfortunate incident happened to your love one years ago

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  3. Worst in the world!!?? You must be on some powerful narcotics we're not even the worst in the Caribbean. Whoever wrote this needs to get their facts before putting crappy info like that out there

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  4. whoever wrote this article surely has it out to make the country look bad. Crime exists everywhere and surely your article is exaggerated. Gangsta's paradise you say? most of the crimes are isolated, have yet to hear gang related murders on my island lately so stfu. Please try tarnishing some other country whee kids cant even walk home from school, paedos, rapist, serial killers, psychopaths are rampant ...maybe this is where you are from! this article is sooo sickening

    im sorry if someone lost a love one but taking down an entire country is ridiculous...

    is the writer racist?

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  5. I live in this Country
    where people are murdered every day. Love St Lucia. I visit every year and feel free to.move around with no fear. Lovely place to visit. Whoever wrote this article knows nothing about this beautiful island.

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  6. Shocking! "Many parts of the island are a no go area" Wow, that's amazing. As an islander living in Saint Lucia I can say tourists enjoy the warmth and friendliness of the local people. Unlike some other islands, local hotels do not have large walls surrounding their properties. Tourists enjoy great freedom of movement and many tourists have a very positive experience and would love to return. Yes, there have been incidents against tourists, but largely due to their own indiscretions, taking the paradise view of the island for granted. Saint Lucia is not perfected...there is crime but gang related crime is more often than not restricted to inter gang violence not connected to tourists who are unlikely to be exposed to it. In the gobatt case, if Scotland Yard itself hasn't made any inroads then are they equally as bad as the RSLPF in detecting crime? That case may have more of an international element than a local one. "Pretty much everyone comes into contact with violent crime" Really? What is the author's basis for saying that. This article is purely scandalous! Pure emotionalism not grounded in reality or perspective! Like every other country Saint Lucia has crime. But certainly not at a level sought to be suggested here. Most locals and tourists will go about their lives and visit without encountering any such gang violence or other forms of criminality. If you as a visitor don't take the ordinary safety precautions in visiting any country you may encourage a random criminal act. As a developing nation yes we have issues with resources. Even the mighty US has issues. Saint Lucia is simply beautiful! Saint Lucia is fun! Saint Lucia is safe! The people are warm! The people are friendly! Saint Lucia is simply memorable! Book your holiday now...you won't regret it. Top honeymoon destination!

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  7. It's is careless, reckless and dangerous for a statement like that on our beautiful island with america murder rate so high

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  8. Every where in the world have crime and killing, stop making it look like st lucia is so bad. To me st lucia is the sweetest in the world. Cause when I'm in st lucia i can sleep, eat, drink and travel any where at peace and I definitely cannot do this in America, England or even Jamaica. I really believe this person who wrote this article doesn't have st lucia and and st lucian at heart. Trying to make us look bad and appare very negative which is not a good thing. Likewise I don't think this person is a true lucian nor love our Island.

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  9. The bloody bastard who wrote this SHIT is an arse, and won't be successful at what (its) trying to do. St. Lucia is known for the hospitality of its people, the sharp intellect of its people, its high values, standards and mild-manners. We have never been a people who practice RACISM. The tone of this so-called writer's trash smacks of racism. So go to hell. Don't come to St. Lucia anywhere. We don't care to have you there. Dirty rat !!! The crime mess that takes place in the USA, UK and other European countries can never compare to the crime in St. Lucia.

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  10. you know its quite amazing what some people would find themselves doing with their free time. instead of being malicious why don't you continue seeking assistance for the justice you so desire from the St Lucian people ? Do you believe Majority of us are in cahoots with criminals and will cover up for them or we condone any form of criminal activity ? i mean common, the Reality is that we live in a world filled with people, some good some bad, as such you cannot come to St Lucia and be careless with your lives and day to day activities , go where ever you want and at any time without taking precaution and feel like the whole island let you down when something terrible happens like what happen to the victim, you his wife, his family and loved ones. We sympathize with you and believe me we the majority would never be happy or condone the actions of a few idiots the minority who look to commit crimes, but you are deliberately trying to tarnish the reputation of an island so dependent on tourism even going as far as to ask for tourist to boycott St Lucia ? What do you intend to gain and achieve by doing so ? Will this bring Roger Pratt Back to you ? Do you know that St Lucian people (civilians ) have come to the aid of tourist who have found themselves in situations where criminals tried to rob or take advantage of them? Crime Occurs any where in the world even in Britain, should i refresh your memory of past incidents? You truly need to stop what you are doing, Cuz this is rather unfair, St Lucia is not immune to violence just as no where in this world is. What happened to your husband , friend or Family member was really unfortunate but enough with this blatant name calling and character assassination of our Island and it's People. If you need to reassure your self of the crimes happening around you, in your country or the rest of the world, pick up the news papers at home , watch the television , go on to websites, search online and i guarantee that you will find there are far more worst places to visit than St Lucia . you need to take this post down, close this website cuz you're not helping your cause, get in contact with the British high commissioner, explain this situation and i'm sure he will do whats required to help bring this matter to a close along with the prime minister and the people of St Lucia. Look i just offered you some advice and assistance if we are such monster and terrible people as you claim, why would you get this advice? Gangster's paradise would not be interested in helping you out, so why would i just now look to assist you.

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  11. I sympathize with your frustration but think you are misguided if you believe calls for tourists to boycott St Lucia will help sort either your or St Lucia's problem. In fact it risks alienating the very people who are trying to help you. The justice system in the country is broken. It hasn't just happened; it has been struggling for years, as you are well aware. Reform and legislation are needed. But so are resources. So to contemplate a boycott, which will inevitably mean less resources coming into the island, and hence the government's coffers, is actually counter productive. I implore you to try not to take the ineptitude of the wheels of justice personally. By doing so, and writing in a threatening or confrontational way about the island as a whole does not actually make things better, and smacks of bitterness. Understandable, but not constructive in my view. Better would be to take the path of reconciliation, and even consider setting up a foundation to channel funds into the justice system of St Lucia in some way. I wish you much strength to continue your quest for justice.

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