St. Lucia will fully cooperate with Canadian law enforcement agencies to legally facilitate the return of nationals who commit crimes in this country and scamper back to the Caribbean island to flee prosecution, says senior government minister, Lenard Montoute.
The minister’s stern promise was made in the wake of Toronto Police cracking a crime ring earlier this month involving a group primarily of St. Lucian illegal immigrants allegedly responsible for 10 violent armed robberies in the city’s west end.
Police arrested 10 men, all but one from St. Lucia, after executing five search warrants.
Tyson Joseph, 20, who is wanted on several counts of robbery, was deported to St. Lucia last month before police knew he was a suspect.
“This story has made big headlines on our talk shows back home and the government is very concerned,” Montoute, the minister responsible for Social Transformation, Public Service, Human Resource Development and Youth & Sport, told Share while in Toronto last weekend for the St. Lucia Toronto Association’s 31st annual fundraiser last Saturday night.
“I want to make it very clear that St. Lucia is no safe haven for criminals and we will cooperate with the Canadian authorities for the extradition of nationals who engage in criminal behaviour. We will be more than happy to see them come back to Canada to face the consequences and answer for the crimes they are alleged to have committed.”
Police in St. Lucia arrested Ron Williams earlier this year after a Canada-wide warrant was issued for his arrest two years ago. He’s accused of murdering 21-year-old Jonathan Rodrigues in Scarborough in February 2008.
Canada and St. Lucia do not share an extradition treaty. The existing piece of legislation that St. Lucia uses to facilitate extradition falls under the Backing of Warrant Act which Williams’ lawyer claims is unconstitutional.
Montoute said the actions of a misguided few could hurt the country’s image and lead to nationals requiring visas to travel to Canada.
“We are certainly cognizant of the impact this could have on nationals living in Canada as well as those who are law-abiding and come to Canada for legitimate reasons,” he said. “The vast majority of St. Lucians are law abiding and they should not be defined by the very few who have chosen to engage in criminal behaviour. They are not representative of what we as St. Lucians are and stand for.”
Montoute also addressed the increase in violence and illegal activities in Rodney Bay which is in his Gros Islet constituency.
Last month, a 22-year-old man was fatally shot in the popular entertainment district frequented by tourists after allegedly failing to obey a police search order. Police recovered an illegal gun and ammunition.
“That’s also a big worry for us because the actions of a few can be devastating to our nation,” he said. “Provisions were made in last week’s budget for social programs for young people so they can become more engaged in productive endeavours that will benefit the country. We will try to help them to develop entrepreneurial skills so they can start their own businesses.
“We are also looking at putting a sub-station in Rodney Bay so that the area can be better policed.”