Justice minister La Corbiniere speaks out
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