Will Jus­tice for Com­mis­sioner Fran­cois be Jus­tice for all?

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In his tele­vised ad­dress on the evening of 8 March 2015, re­lated to the un­dead and in­creas­ingly con­tro­ver­sial IMPACS re­port, this was prime min­is­ter Kenny An­thony’s shock­ing prom­ise to the na­tion: “I will state some of these find­ings tonight to bring home to you the ex­treme grav­ity of this mat­ter. I can­not and will not dis­cuss or re­view the ev­i­den­tial ba­sis of the con­clu­sions of the in­ves­ti­ga­tors.

“The mat­ter of pur­su­ing crim­i­nal charges is the pre­serve of the di­rec­tor of public pros­e­cu­tions and it is she who will pro­nounce on the same once her ac­tions are con­sis­tent with our Con­sti­tu­tion. Our Con­sti­tu­tion en­shrines three sep­a­rate arms of the state: the ex­ec­u­tive, leg­isla­tive and the ju­di­cial. I will not al­low the ex­ec­u­tive, which I lead, to trans­gress the province of the other two arms. I in­tend to fully con­tinue re­spect­ing that sa­cred sep­a­ra­tion.”

Did he mean to say the DPP might pur­sue “crim­i­nal charges” based solely on the con­tent of the IMPACS re­port?

No mat­ter, he had cho­sen for un­de­clared rea­sons to re­veal to the home au­di­ence and oth­ers via the In­ter­net that “the find­ings of the in­ves­ti­ga­tors are ex­tremely damn­ing . . . to bring home to you the ex­treme grav­ity of this mat­ter.” Af­ter all, they 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 may not have de­clared him­self ex­e­cu­tioner at this point but by his pro­nounce­ments the prime min­is­ter cer­tainly came across as pros­e­cu­tor, judge and jury.

Still cit­ing the IMPACS re­port, the prime min­is­ter said, “The weapons found at the scene of the al­leged ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings were from sources other than the vic­tims. The in­ves­ti­ga­tors say the weapons were planted on the scene of the shoot­ings . . .”

The na­tion must’ve gasped when the prime min­is­ter said: “The re­port sug­gests that the crime prob­lem in Saint Lu­cia is fa­cil­i­tated by cor­rupt politi­cians, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, busi­ness per­sons and po­lice of­fi­cers.”

Yes, “sug­gests.” But ev­i­dently per­sua­sive enough to risk re­peat­ing to mil­lions at home and over­seas, de­spite hav­ing ear­lier ad­vised his au­di­ence it was up to the di­rec­tor of public pros­e­cu­tions to sift through supplied in­for­ma­tion and, if nec­es­sary, pur­sue crim­i­nal charges.

It must at this time re­main con­jec­tural the DPP’s thoughts on the prime min­is­ter’s rev­e­la­tions. It cer­tainly wouldn’t do to have the public spec­u­lat­ing about the pos­si­bil­ity of her of­fice op­er­at­ing on the or­ders of the prime min­is­ter, him­self hardly a dis­in­ter­ested party in the IMPACS mat­ter. But there could be no deny­ing he had told the whole world what he had read in the IMPACS re­port—be­fore the DPP had had the op­por­tu­nity to study it. Not only did he iden­tify of­fi­cials in the IMPACS re­port, he had also re­vealed the dis­com­bob­u­lat­ing claim that crime in Saint Lu­cia was fa­cil­i­tated by “cor­rupt politi­cians, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, busi­ness per­sons and po­lice of­fi­cers.” More­over, the ev­i­dence supplied by the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tors was, by the prime min­is­ter’s mea­sure, “damn­ing.”

Point­edly, the prime min­is­ter claimed the in­ves­ti­ga­tors had con­cluded that “will­ful blind­ness ex­isted in re­spect of the com­mis­sioner of po­lice and par­tic­u­lar mem­bers of his lead­er­ship mem­ber­ship team.” Ad­di­tion­ally: “The in­ves­ti­ga­tors have rec­om­mended that all po­lice of­fi­cers in­volved in the un­law­ful killings of cit­i­zens in re­spect of the files re­viewed must be pros­e­cuted.”

Did those “in­volved” in­clude of­fi­cers ac­cused of “will­ful blind­ness” to the al­leged killings, at least one of them be­ing, ac­cord­ing to the prime min­is­ter, “the po­lice com­mis­sioner?”

At one point dur­ing his tele­vised speech the prime min­is­ter must’ve re­mem­bered that un­der our jus­tice sys­tem sus­pects are to be pre­sumed in­no­cent un­til proven guilty.

“I have al­ready said, and I re­peat,” he went on, “that it is not for me per­son­ally or

the gov­ern­ment col­lec­tively, or any min­is­ter in­di­vid­u­ally, to make any judg­ment about the in­no­cence or guilt of any­one who may be im­pli­cated by the find­ings of the re­port.” But then was it not pass­ing “judg­ment” to say the find­ings of in­ves­ti­ga­tors into al­leged fa­tal po­lice shoot­ings amounted to “damn­ing ev­i­dence?” And what about “will­ful blind­ness?” Then there was the “death list” the prime min­is­ter claimed to have seen with his own eyes, the ex­is­tence of which he re­vealed had been con­firmed by his in­ves­ti­ga­tors, never mind the com­mis­sioner’s own con­trary view.

In any case, since it ap­pears only the prime min­is­ter had seen a “death list,” shouldn’t he be con­sid­ered an im­por­tant wit­ness whose ev­i­dence was at the very heart of the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tion? Was he in­ter­viewed by the in­ves­ti­ga­tors? We know he also con­sid­ered the ex­is­tence of the so-called death list vi­tal— which may be why he went out of his way on the evening of 8 March 2015 to tell the world what he’d said ear­lier had been “con­firmed” by his hand-picked in­ves­ti­ga­tors from Ja­maica!

The prime min­is­ter also said: “I am not here to, nor will I or­der that po­lice of­fi­cers be charged or dis­missed or of­fered pack­ages to re­tire from the po­lice force.”

Then what about that re­ported $5 mil­lion hand­shake? Oh, yes, I for­got. A mere “ad­ven­ture in ab­sur­dity,” by the mea­sure of the judge, jury and ex­e­cu­tioner. And his other rev­e­la­tion last week that the un­tried, will­fully blind po­lice com­mis­sioner had been “in­vited by the Public Ser­vice Com­mis­sion to re­sign in the public in­ter­est?” What about that?

What prompted The God­fa­ther- type of­fer? Was it some­thing the po­lice com­mis­sioner said? Didn’t say? Did? Re­fused to do? Did the com­mis­sioner prove too dumb to rec­og­nize his leave was of the per­ma­nent va­ri­ety?

Did the PSC, un­prompted, hand the com­mis­sioner a rock and a harder place choice? Or did the gover­nor gen­eral ki­bosh the plan? The PM didn’t say at last week’s press meet­ing; only that the com­mis­sioner had fi­nally opted for “early re­tire­ment,” con­ceiv­ably in his own in­ter­ests, whether they amounted to five or ten mil­lion dol­lars and a re­tool­ing of his dam­aged public im­age. If money can’t buy you love, who knows the pos­si­bil­i­ties con­nected with the right amount of money— plus a leisurely swim in the fa­mously re­ju­ve­nat­ing wa­ter un­der the bridge?

As the prime min­is­ter ex­plained it un­der pres­sure last week, while the com­mis­sioner had de­cided vol­un­tar­ily to throw in his khakis and car keys, the process was “not yet com­plete,” which to many amounted to the PM speak­ing in tongues. One need ask: Bear­ing in mind the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tion was launched (some say un­con­sti­tu­tion­ally!) un­der duress, is it in the prime min­is­ter’s po­lit­i­cal and per­sonal in­ter­est to keep the re­port by the im­ported in­ves­ti­ga­tors un­der wraps? As im­por­tant as ob­vi­ously it is, why has the DPP ut­tered not a word, not a word, not a word re­lated to the re­port? Cer­tainly she must know the is­sue’s im­pact on the po­lice and the public trust.

I re­cently came across the fol­low­ing in the Voice of last March: “In his Sun­day ad­dress the prime min­is­ter com­menced by stat­ing that the IMPACS re­port . . . pre­sented him with ‘most chal­leng­ing and ex­tremely tough, coura­geous but nec­es­sary de­ci­sions.’ He con­tin­ued that the mat­ters in ques­tion have tar­nished the rep­u­ta­tion of our coun­try and brought con­sid­er­able dis­honor to our po­lice force. In con­clud­ing that de­ci­sions have to be made, and that dis­honor has been brought to the po­lice force, the prime min­is­ter has ac­cepted the con­clu­sions of the re­port. He has found the po­lice force guilty of dis­hon­or­able con­duct.

“Fur­ther on in his ad­dress the hon­or­able prime min­is­ter said he would share some of the find­ings of the re­port which he de­scribed as ex­tremely damn­ing. He said that the re­port ‘con­firms’ that the death list . . . did ex­ist. More alarm­ingly, ‘all the shoot­ings re­viewed were fake en­coun­ters staged by the po­lice to le­git­imize their ac­tions; the weapons sup­pos­edly found on the scene of the al­leged ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings were from sources other than the vic­tims.’ It is our view that by ad­dress­ing the na­tion in the man­ner that he did, the prime min­is­ter, whether he in­tended to or not, gave the im­pres­sion that he adopted the con­clu­sions of the re­port . . . The prime min­is­ter did say that the re­port would be sub­mit­ted to the DPP for her de­ter­mi­na­tion of whether or not to bring any pros­e­cu­tions, but it seems to us that hav­ing stated what he did ear­lier that the lat­ter state­ment smacks of Pon­tius Pi­late wash­ing his hands.

“We sin­cerely hope that the prime min­is­ter has not, by his ad­dress, fa­tally cor­rupted the process which he has said he has asked the Di­rec­tor of Public Pros­e­cu­tions to com­mence and carry through to its con­clu­sion.”

The fact re­mains that the po­lice force is not only head­less at this time, it has also been robbed of its soul. Mean­while, the frus­trated public demon­strates ev­ery day, one way or another, its in­creas­ing frus­tra­tion. Peo­ple have taken to be­ing their own judge, jury and ex­e­cu­tioner. We are this close to Jun­gle City while the prime min­is­ter tries to fig­ure a way out of the mess he cre­ated with his egre­gious mis­han­dling of the IMPACS is­sue and what pre­ceded it.

As for the courts, the crime lab, the gov­ern­ment’s re­la­tion­ship with what re­mains of the force, let’s not even go there. Suf­fice to say, it’s true what they say in Pur­ga­tory: be care­ful what you pray for!

DPP Veron­ica Clarke: Is she stuck be­tween a rock

and the prime min­is­ter?

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