Letters & Opinion

GFL Charles Airport bomb threat coverage can cause friction with our neighbours

THE EDITOR: We may by now be all aware of the events surrounding the arrest of two passengers bound for Martinique on an Air Caraïbes flight on Sat Jun 9th.

What followed with the talk show brigades and some other media were reports/comments on the arrest of two French citizens who apparently uttered threats, resulting in the closure of GFL Airport. So far so correct.

It should come as no surprise that the description of the suspects as ‘French’ citizens may have created the impression in the minds of the great St. Lucian public that our Martinican neighbours had crossed the line, notwithstanding that a French citizen can be a native of the Caribbean, North & South America, Africa, Continental France, even the Pacific and Indian Ocean regions!

One unintended and unfortunate consequence can very well be the creation of friction between Martinique and St. Lucian travelers and border control officials in both islands, as a result of the use of the word ‘French’ to describe the suspects – one news item even speculated on the treatment that a St. Lucian committing a similar offence at the airport in Martinique would receive!

Another suggested, somewhat disparagingly, that the French Embassy would spring into action to secure the release of the suspect(s).

The possible friction referred to would have been avoided by simply stating the address/final destination of our ‘French’ suspect, who was meant to transit Fort-de-France, thus removing any suspicion that our French neighbours in Martinique were in any way implicated in that reprehensible and unlawful utterance.

In fact, our Martinican friends would almost certainly support firm action on the part of St. Lucian law enforcement.

As for intervention by the French Embassy, representing a signatory state to the Vienna Convention of 1963, it would be required to ensure that its citizens in a receiving state (St. Lucia) enjoyed rights under St. Lucian Law, including their day in Court.

As the former Consul General of St. Lucia to the French Departments of the Americas (DFA), I would have been required, under the same treaty, to do the same in the DFA for St. Lucians detained in similar circumstances.

It is not too late for our intrepid newshounds to set the record straight.

Yours truly
Keats Compton

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