Ac­count­abil­ity and Trans­parency

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

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.

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