Accountability and Transparency
By Victor E. Girard
It would appear in this society we are only concerned about accountability where it involves the political directorate. We do not seem to be bothered to ask public officials to account for their actions or inaction.
I was startled when I heard the Minister for National Security say that there was a change of plan regarding the Nepalese students who did not return home as stated because the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) requires that all remain in Saint Lucia. He said the original decision was based on information from the police.
This statement startled me for I could not understand why the DPP would want all the students to give evidence. I have always tried to be cautious in what I say or do and more specifically when the matter is not within my sphere of competence. Having heard attorney-at-law Clarence Rambally state on the “Can I Help You” TV show that it was not necessary for the DPP to require all the students to remain in Saint Lucia, I made further enquiries. I sought the opinion of a friend who was at one time a legal officer at the Attorney General’s office and also a magistrate. He was of the same view as Mr. Rambally but undertook to discuss same with a Queen’s Counsel who concurred. My concern is for the extremely high cost (so far over $400,000) of dealing with this matter the way of the DPP.
Now let us analyze this matter thoroughly. If the DPP has plausible reasons for requiring all the students to give evidence, could not other arrangements be made to obtain such evidence at lower cost to the State? I think so. Example: it costs approximately $5,000 for a return ticket to Nepal, ie $350,000 for 70 students. We all know how long it takes to deal with matters in our courts. If this case goes on for a year, the State will incur $1.2M.
Anyone who is prepared to examine this matter objectively will agree the State is likely to save further high expenditure which it can ill afford should all the students be sent home and either some or all return when required to give evidence. Further, in this modern day the technology which is available could be also used. IMPACS REPORT - I cannot recall the date on which the Prime Minister addressed the nation on the IMPACS subject. Neither do I know whether the DPP requested the special prosecution offered to her in the PM’s address.
It is my opinion that we should know by now whether there is a prima facie case to answer or not. No doubt the officers who were involved in what is alleged to be extrajudicial killings, and their families, must be under great stress.
At least for their sake the nation should be told what is the position.