The International Human Rights Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly
Saint Lucia is a signatory but not a State Party to the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), Article 21 of which governs the right of peaceful assembly.
The right of peaceful assembly is, though, a fundamental human right that is part of the corpus of customary international law. It is also a general principle of law.See Art. 38(1), 1945 Statute of the International Court of Justice.
At regional level, Saint Lucia is not a State Party to the 1969 Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, which also guarantees the right of peaceful assembly.
The Domestic Legal Framework on the Right of Peaceful Assembly
Under the 1978 Constitution, every person in Saint Lucia is entitled to the right to freedom of assembly. Exceptions may be made on the grounds of defence, public safety, public order, public morality, and public health.
There is no dedicated national legislation governing assemblies in St Lucia.
The Legal Framework on Use of Force During Assemblies
The Use of Force
International Legal Rules
Under international law, the duty on the State and its law enforcement agencies is to facilitate the enjoyment of the right of peaceful assembly. According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials:
In the dispersal of assemblies that are unlawful but non-violent, law enforcement officials shall avoid the use of force or, where that is not practicable, shall restrict such force to the minimum extent necessary.
All force used by police and other law enforcement agencies must be necessary for a legitimate law enforcement purpose and proportionate to that purpose.
The Regulations annexed to the 1965 Police Act declare that it is a disciplinary offence to use
any unnecessary violence to any prisoner or other person with whom he or she may be brought into contact in the execution of his or her duty.S. 3(h)(ii), Regulations, 1965 Police Act.
The Use of Firearms
International Legal Rules
According to the 1990 United Nations Basic Principles, in the dispersal of violent assemblies, a law enforcement official may only use a firearm against a specific individual where this is necessary to confront an imminent threat of death or serious injury or a grave and proximate threat to life.
National law does not regulate the use of firearms during assemblies.
State Compliance with its Legal Obligations
Views and Concluding Observations of United Nations Treaty Bodies
Saint Lucia is not a State Party to the ICCPR.
In the 2015 Universal Periodic Review of Saint Lucia under the UN Human Rights Council, the right of peaceful assembly was not addressed.
A 2015 report by investigators from the Jamaica Constabulary Force concluded that officers from the Royal St. Lucia Police Force had effectively operated death squads, killing suspected criminals in 2010-11 during a security drive called Operation Restore Confidence, which sought to reduce violent crime and boost tourism. The police then covered up the killings, planting weapons at the scene. In May 2018, the Government of Saint Lucia said there was no "quick fix" to the alleged extrajudicial killings by members of the Royal St. Lucia Police Force. This followed concern expressed by human rights attorney, Mary Francis, that the probe into the alleged extra-judicial killings by police officers between 2010 and 2011 was still dragging on.
Views of Civil Society
According to Freedom House's 2019 report on Saint Lucia:
The government generally respects the constitutionally protected right to free assembly. A number of protests took place peacefully in 2018, including a large SLP-led event in September at which participants cited various grievances against the government.