A CHAIN OF BOO-BOOS!

IMPACS, LAM­BIRDS, CRIME LAB, CUBANS WITH LOOSHAN PASS­PORTS

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE -

Jus­tice Min­is­ter Philip La Corbiniere: When will he con­vene a press con­fer­ence re­lated to the sev­eral prob­lems as­so­ci­ated with his min­istry, in­clud­ing the crime lab con­tro­versy and the sta­tus of the IMPACS re­port?

Fol­low­ing sev­eral over­seas news re­ports that the US coast­guard had in­ter­cepted a boat­load of Cubans il­le­gally en route to Amer­ica, the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice on Mon­day an­nounced his gov­ern­ment had “be­come aware” of what had been in the me­dia for al­most a week, there­fore com­mon knowl­edge. The state­ment left the im­pres­sion that be­fore the May 15 pub­li­ca­tion of the re­lated item by the As­so­ci­ated Press, the gov­ern­ment was to­tally un­aware that of the 96 Cubans taken into cus­tody by US im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials only 58 had been repa­tri­ated, Cuba hav­ing re­fused to per­mit the re­turn of the re­main­ing 38, all of them armed with “Saint Lu­cian visas.”

The bul­letin from the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice seemed also to sug­gest the gov­ern­ment’s sole ob­jec­tive was to as­sure cit­i­zens that Cuban vis­i­tors to Saint Lu­cia (un­like the other way around) do not re­quire visas— not with how the in­ter­cepted 38 came by the visas in the first place. In any event, the Cubans were in­ter­cepted on their way to Florida, not Cas­tries.

The re­lease did not dis­close when or how the visas were ac­quired, or by whose author­ity. It claimed the mat­ter was “un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion”— but not a word, not a word, not a word on how long the in­ves­ti­ga­tion had been go­ing on or when it was likely to be com­pleted.

Kenny An­thony, hon­ored by Fidel him­self sev­eral years ago with the Jose Marti award, had al­ways prided him­self on his close­ness to his Cuban coun­ter­parts past and present: they both op­er­ate em­bassies in their re­spec­tive ter­ri­to­ries. The sug­ges­tion that his Cuban friends would keep from Saint Lu­cia’s prime min­is­ter such vi­tal in­for­ma­tion as last month’s Amer­i­can in­ter­cep­tion, keep­ing in mind his long dicey re­la­tion­ship with the US State Depart­ment, is a pill dif­fi­cult to swallow.

Not so long ago Wik­ileaks re­leased a hacked ca­ble that said it all, as far as the United States gov­ern­ment and our prime min­is­ter are con­cerned. Cit­ing a visit by US Am­bas­sador Mary Kramer “to ded­i­cate two SOUTHCOM­con­structed projects and meet in­for­mally with Saint Lu­cia’s prime min­is­ter Kenny An­thony,” the ca­ble re­vealed the am­bas­sador’s cold as­sess­ment of her host: “PM An­thony is con­sid­er­ably less com­mit­ted to, and less ca­pa­ble of, man­ag­ing St. Lu­cia’s diplo­matic and se­cu­rity re­spon­si­bil­i­ties than he claims . . . A for­mer pro­fes­sor, PM An­thony seems more in­ter­ested in pon­tif­i­cat­ing on what oth­ers should be do­ing in the in­ter­na­tional arena than in be­com­ing a re­spon­si­ble leader at home, in the re­gion, or glob­ally.”

The re­la­tion­ship has not im­proved with time: de­spite IMPACS, the US gov­ern­ment has for al­most two years suspended all as­sis­tance—eco­nomic and oth­er­wise—to our po­lice force, as re­tal­i­a­tion for what the State Depart­ment has de­scribed as “gross hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions.” The way the prime min­is­ter ex­plained it on 20 Au­gust 2013, Saint Lu­cia’s ear­lier close re­la­tion­ship with the United States had soured af­ter “twelve in­di­vid­u­als were shot and killed by po­lice of­fi­cers in 2010-11, dur­ing the ten­ure of the gov­ern­ment of the United Work­ers Party.”

Prior to the killings, the prime min­is­ter ex­plained he had seen “a hit list of tar­geted per­sons deemed crim­i­nals.” More­over, fol­low­ing the pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ment’s 2011 launch of Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence “some twelve per­sons met their deaths.” Th­ese killings had at­tracted, he said, the at­ten­tion of the United States who in its 2011 Coun­try Re­port on Hu­man Rights Prac­tices in Saint Lu­cia had noted “there were twelve po­ten­tially un­law­ful fa­tal po­lice shoot­ings dur­ing the year, some re­port­edly com­mit­ted by po­lice of­fi­cers as­so­ci­ated with an ad hoc task force within the po­lice depart­ment.”

It was this is­sue, the prime min­is­ter ob­served, that had pre-oc­cu­pied the United States and which had led to the ac­tions taken against the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force, in ac­cor­dance with the Leahy Law that says “the US shall not fur­nish any as­sis­tance to any unit of the se­cu­rity forces of a for­eign coun­try, if the Sec­re­tary of State has cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion that such unit has com­mit­ted a gross vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights.”

By the prime min­is­ter’s ac­count dur­ing his 20 Au­gust 2013 tele­vised ad­dress, “the pro­hi­bi­tions shall not ap­ply if the Sec­re­tary de­ter­mines and re­ports that the gov­ern­ment of such coun­try is tak­ing ef­fec­tive steps to bring re­spon­si­ble mem­bers of the se­cu­rity unit to jus­tice.” Ad­di­tion­ally: “In the event that funds are with­held from any unit, the Sec­re­tary of State shall promptly in­form the for­eign gov­ern­ment of the ba­sis of such ac­tion and, to the max­i­mum ex­tent prac­ti­ca­ble, as­sist the for­eign gov­ern­ment in tak­ing ef­fec­tive mea­sures to bring the re­spon­si­ble mem­bers of the se­cu­rity forces to jus­tice.”

The prime min­is­ter went on: “When the pro­vi­sions [of the Leahy Law] are scru­ti­nized against the ac­tions of the United States, it be­comes clear that the United States be­lieves it has cred­i­ble ev­i­dence that the of­fi­cers of the RSLPF com­mit­ted gross vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights.”

Shortly be­fore the prime min­is­ter de­liv­ered his ad­dress his jus­tice min­is­ter had pub­licly dis­missed STAR re­ports re­gard­ing the ex­ist­ing US-Saint Lu­cia re­la­tion­ship.

Im­por­tantly, in his cited 2013 ad­dress the prime min­is­ter ac­knowl­edged “it is un­de­ni­able that it is in our vi­tal in­ter­est to main­tain close ties of co­op­er­a­tion with the United States in se­cu­rity mat­ters”—which re­turns us to US am­bas­sador Mary Kramer’s ear­lier stated ob­ser­va­tion that Saint Lu­cia’s prime min­is­ter “is con­sid­er­ably less com­mit­ted to, and less ca­pa­ble of, man­ag­ing St. Lu­cia’s diplo­matic and se­cu­rity re­spon­si­bil­i­ties than he claims.”

Hav­ing un­der­scored what was pos­si­ble un­der Amer­i­can law but not un­der our own legal sys­tem, the prime min­is­ter an­nounced his de­ci­sion to in­vite the CARICOM Im­ple­men­ta­tion Agency for Crime and Se­cu­rity (IMPACS) “to iden­tify three se­nior in­ves­ti­ga­tors from the re­gion to in­ves­ti­gate the so-called ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings.” The trio would be asked to “eval­u­ate all avail­able ev­i­dence and de­ter­mine whether or not th­ese mat­ters war­rant fur­ther ac­tion.”

Nearly seven months later, on 8 March 2015, the prime min­is­ter an­nounced his gov­ern­ment’s re­ceipt of a re­port from the IMPACS team that com­prised not three in­ves­ti­ga­tors, as ear­lier stated, but eight—in­clud­ing a bal­lis­tics ex­pert, a legal ad­vi­sor, a data en­try spe­cial­ist, a cy­ber-crime an­a­lyst and de­tec­tives.

While he did not in­tend to re­veal the full con­tent of the re­port un­til it had been prop­erly ex­am­ined by the Direc­tor of Public Pros­e­cu­tions, the prime min­is­ter nev­er­the­less de­clared the re­sult of IMPACS’ in­ves­ti­ga­tions “ex­tremely damn­ing.” He said the find­ings re­lated “not only to those

of­fi­cers who were in­volved in the op­er­a­tions but ad­di­tion­ally mem­bers of the high com­mand of the po­lice force who may have been in­volved in cov­er­ing up th­ese mat­ters.” He con­firmed “the black­list or death lists ref­er­enced by the me­dia, hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions, vic­tims’ fam­i­lies and cit­i­zens alike did ex­ist.”

He ne­glected on the oc­ca­sion to men­tion his own public dec­la­ra­tion in 2011 that he had seen the so-called death list with his own eyes!

He also re­vealed that ac­cord­ing to the IMPACS re­port “all the shoot­ings re­viewed were fake en­coun­ters staged by the po­lice to le­git­imize their ac­tions.” More­over, that the weapons sup­pos­edly found at the scene of al­leged ju­di­cial killings “were from sources other than the vic­tims . . . that they were planted.”

Ad­di­tion­ally “a num­ber of shoot­ings were done by po­lice of­fi­cers and are listed on the mur­der statis­tic as be­ing done by un­known as­sailants.”

Per­haps most shock­ing of all: “The crime prob­lem in Saint Lu­cia is fa­cil­i­tated by cor­rupt politi­cians and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, busi­ness per­sons and po­lice of­fi­cers.”

The prime min­is­ter also re­vealed IMPACS had rec­om­mended “all po­lice of­fi­cers in­volved in the un­law­ful killings of cit­i­zens in re­spect of the files re­viewed must be pros­e­cuted.” Nearly three months later, there has been not a word, not a word, not one of­fi­cial word on the sta­tus of the IMPACS re­port. Mean­while, po­lice com­mis­sioner Ver­non Fran­cois and at least two other of­fi­cers have been sent on ex­tended leave, with no date set for their re­turn to work. The once vo­cal, take-no-pris­on­ers Frances Henry has ef­fec­tively been de­moted and gagged.

Rev­e­la­tions re­lat­ing to the Lam­birds af­fair have done noth­ing to dis­prove US am­bas­sador Mary Kramer’s eval­u­a­tion of Saint Lu­cia’s prime min­is­ter. The na­tion re­mains to be told how the op­er­a­tors of Lam­birds Academy were able to process in a mat­ter of days some three hun­dred pass­ports and visas for in­di­vid­u­als from In­dia, Nepal, the Philip­pines and other coun­tries. A re­cent state­ment be­fore par­lia­ment by the com­merce min­is­ter, in­clud­ing ref­er­ences to due dili­gence in the Lam­birds mat­ter, has given the na­tion more cause for pause. And now there is the mat­ter of the Cubans with Saint Lu­cian pass­ports, os­ten­si­bly “un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” as is the Lam­birds fi­asco.

Par­tic­u­larly dis­turb­ing is that at least one of the in­di­vid­u­als at the heart of Lam­birds also con­trib­uted to the Eco­nomic Cit­i­zen­ship re­port that has ev­i­dently con­vinced the gov­ern­ment our only hope for eco­nomic sur­vival rests in the pock­ets of multi-bil­lion­aires with a par­tic­u­lar pen­chant for poverty-stricken zones with de­clared cor­rupt gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and busi­ness peo­ple (see prime min­is­ter’s ear­lier cited ref­er­ences to IMPACS), killer cops and other such so­ci­etal spiro­chetes.

Con­sid­er­ing what we know passes here for se­cu­rity and due dili­gence, the fol­low­ing from the Jan­uary 2015 Eco­nomic Cit­i­zen­ship Re­port makes in­ter­est­ing read­ing: “As a key in­gre­di­ent in ev­ery global res­i­dence and cit­i­zen­ship pro­gram, the process of back­ground and verification of the ap­pli­cants is an es­sen­tial part and in­te­gral el­e­ment of the due dili­gence process. When it comes to global res­i­dence and cit­i­zen­ship pro­grams, this is of par­tic­u­lar im­por­tance of their in­tegrity and is key to public sup­port of the pro­gram . . . It is worth not­ing that the due dili­gence and back­ground verification is also crit­i­cal for the av­er­age pro­cess­ing time of each ap­pli­ca­tion. As one of the fac­tors with heav­i­est weight from the in­vestors’ per­spec­tive, it is there­fore im­por­tant to search for the proper bal­ance be­tween pro­cess­ing times and ef­fi­ciency and ac­cu­racy in this process.”

Was that “proper bal­ance” achieved by the de­part­ments re­spon­si­ble for the li­cens­ing of Lam­birds’ ac­tiv­i­ties? Ev­i­dently not from the po­lice per­spec­tive. They have shut down Lam­birds Academy of “Dauphin Street, Gross Islet, North Amer­ica.” Its for­mer op­er­a­tors are now on bail and fac­ing charges of hu­man traf­fick­ing, money laun­der­ing and fraud!

Dur­ing his most re­cent bud­get pre­sen­ta­tion the prime min­is­ter seemed to gloss over the sub­ject of eco­nomic cit­i­zen­ship: “Mr. Speaker, in re­spect of new in­vest­ment pos­si­bil­i­ties, the gov­ern­ment has al­ready in­di­cated it will pro­ceed with a cit­i­zen­ship by in­vest­ment pro­gram . . . We be­lieve the pro­gram, prop­erly man­aged, could yield sig­nif­i­cant in­vest­ment.”

He promised “en­abling leg­is­la­tion will be pre­sented at the next House sit­ting,” when doubt­less the ayes will have what the prime min­is­ter and Vaughan Lewis, not to men­tion In­vest St. Lu­cia, have de­cided the ayes must have!

L-R: Prime Min­is­ter and Min­is­ter of Fi­nance

Dr. Kenny An­thony; For­eign

Com­merce Min­is­ter Emma Hip­polyte;

In­vest Saint Lu­cia CEO McHale An­drew

and Jus­tice Min­is­ter Philip La Corbiniere.

Af­fairs Min­is­ter Alva Bap­tiste;

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