Jus­tice min­is­ter La Corbiniere speaks out

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Rick Wayne

In his New Year ad­dress a cou­ple of weeks ago, Saint Lu­cia’s prime min­is­ter fi­nally ac­knowl­edged re­ceipt of the much-an­tic­i­pated IMPACS re­port. His face hardly re­flect­ing the pain of this na­tion whose po­lice force had been for the last year or so un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for al­leged ex­tra­ju­di­cial ex­e­cu­tions, the prime min­is­ter con­firmed what his jus­tice min­is­ter had, over and over, de­nied: his gov­ern­ment had re­ceived the long-awaited re­port and was “de­lib­er­at­ing its con­tent and im­pli­ca­tions.”

He re­gret­ted he could not dur­ing his New Year Mes­sage get into the de­tails of the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tion but promised the na­tion a full ac­count “in Fe­bru­ary.”

Of course, he had spo­ken sim­i­larly in 2013 when he said he ex­pected to have in his hands the find­ings of the probe in Fe­bru­ary 2014.

As is known, there was no word on the IMPACS mat­ter last Fe­bru­ary. From time to time the jus­tice min­is­ter Vic­tor LaCorbiniere came out of hid­ing to serve his fa­vorite TV sta­tion one un­chal­lenged sus­pect ex­cuse or an­other for the nonar­rival of the re­port that would ei­ther harden or soften the Amer­i­can at­ti­tude to­ward the lo­cal po­lice.

On Wed­nes­day, notwith­stand­ing the prime min­is­ter’s New Year pledge, this is what LaCorbiniere told HTS: “As a re­sult of prac­ti­cal rea­sons, we had to ex­tend the time frame for the com­ple­tion of the in­ves­ti­ga­tion but over­all the in­ves­ti­ga­tion has been a good one.”

Barely paus­ing to ex­hale, ex­pres­sion­less eyes care­fully avoid­ing the cam­era’s chal­leng­ing gaze, the jus­tice min­is­ter went on to say the “good” in­ves­ti­ga­tion was “not a per­fect in­ves­ti­ga­tion, be­cause of the time we had to do it, be­cause of the limited re­sources we had, be­cause of many fac­tors we had sort of im­pact­ing on the in­ves­ti­ga­tion.”

LaCorbiniere has al­ways had his own way with words, which may be why he sel­dom makes him­self avail­able to re­porters not con­nected to HTS.

He went on, of­fer­ing not the small­est proof: “The peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia un­der­stood that it was a dif­fi­cult in­ves­ti­ga­tion to ad­vance for many rea­sons. But I have al­ways said as min­is­ter, and my gov­ern­ment has al­ways said, that we were go­ing to en­sure that this in­ves­ti­ga­tion was car­ried out and it was done prop­erly.”

So first the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tion “had been a good one.” Then it was “not a per­fect in­ves­ti­ga­tion” but fi­nally “it was car­ried out and done prop­erly!”

In all events, last week the for­mer po­lice com­mis­sioner and re­cently re­tired ad­vi­sor to the prime min­is­ter on na­tional se­cu­rity warned that if the gov­ern­ment “does not find the courage to do the right thing” with re­gard to IMPACS and the po­lice, “then we might as well close shop.”

As for the pos­si­ble im­pact of IMPACS, Aus­bert Regis said while be­ing in­ter­viewed by the gov­ern­ment’s press sec­re­tary on In Touch: “There might be some kind of fall­out, neg­a­tive fall­out. But I think in the main the po­lice force will come out bet­ter at the other end of the sit­u­a­tion than it is right now.” As for the po­lice com­mis­sioner on whose watch the con­tro­ver­sial Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence was un­der­taken, this is what he told Ja­dia JnPierre-Emanuel on In­side

Gov­ern­ment: The ini­tia­tive was “put in place for a par­tic­u­lar pur­pose. There is a re­port and it may in­flu­ence a few things but I have no re­grets . . . For me, if you have a part­ner­ship and one of the part­ners pulls out it gives you an op­por­tu­nity to move for­ward. If we have to op­er­ate with­out a par­tic­u­lar part­ner, well the thing for us to do is to keep polic­ing Saint Lu­cia.”

Added Com­mis­sioner Ver­non Fran­cois, point­edly: “We have main­tained an ex­cel­lent re­la­tion­ship with the Bri­tish, the Cana­di­ans, the French and the Is­raeli gov­ern­ment.”

On the other hand the prime min­is­ter has pub­licly stated that with­out Amer­i­can as­sis­tance, whether eco­nomic or spe­cial train­ing, keep­ing our bor­ders safe from drug and hu­man traf­fick­ers will amount to a mission im­pos­si­ble.

Be­sides, there is al­ways Amer­ica’s not-so-se­cret weapon for bring­ing ar­ro­gant regimes to their senses. In 2011 US Im­mi­gra­tion re­voked the visas and diplo­matic pass­ports of one gov­ern­ment min­is­ter. Fran­cois him­self was not al­lowed by He­wan­nora Air­port to board a flight to Philadel­phia.

Other of­fi­cers have had their visas with­drawn. More re­cently, lo­cal po­lice per­son­nel were locked out of a U.S. State Depart­mentspon­sored se­cu­rity-re­lated ac­tiv­ity staged right here in Saint Lu­cia.

In the midst of what sounds like a Tower of Ba­bel dis­course in­volv­ing the prime min­is­ter, his jus­tice min­is­ter, the po­lice com­mis­sioner and his im­me­di­ate pre­de­ces­sor, Saint Lu­cians await news about the im­me­di­ate fu­ture of our own broke and bro­ken se­cu­rity force.

Re­cently the cur­rent com­mis­sioner said he and his men were re­ly­ing more and more on com­mu­nity polic­ing, de­scribed by Wil­liam J. Brat­ton, New York’s po­lice chief, as “so­cial work­ers with no abil­ity to tackle se­ri­ous crime.”

Jus­tice min­is­ter Vic­tor LaCorbiniere broke his si­lence this week and

com­mented on the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tion and


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