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IMPACS Drops

The Star (St. Lucia) - - FRONT PAGE - By Rick Wayne

Is Kenny An­thony in dan­ger of be­ing per­ceived as an ob­struc­tion in the way of jus­tice?

When on Au­gust 9, 1974 U.S. Pres­i­dent Richard Nixon re­signed he was fac­ing al­most cer­tain im­peach­ment and re­moval of of­fice be­cause of the Water­gate scan­dal, in which he was charged with “mis­use of pres­i­den­tial pow­ers to vi­o­late the con­sti­tu­tional rights of Amer­i­can cit­i­zens, ob­struc­tion of jus­tice, and fail­ure to re­spond to House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee subpoe­nas.”

At the heart of the scan­dal was that on June 17, 1972 FBI and CIA agent James McCord and four other men work­ing for the Com­mit­tee to Re-Elect the Pres­i­dent (CREEP) had bro­ken into the Demo­cratic Party’s Head­quar­ters in the Water­gate, a ho­tel-of­fice build­ing in Wash­ing­ton, D.C. They were caught go­ing through files and at­tempt­ing to plant lis­ten­ing devices. Five days later, Nixon de­nied any knowl­edge of the bur­glary or that his ad­min­is­tra­tion had played any role in it.

Ev­i­dence even­tu­ally sur­faced that key doc­u­ments link­ing the pres­i­dent to the cover-up of the break-in had been de­stroyed; that the Nixon re­elec­tion com­mit­tee had run a “dirty tricks cam­paign” against the Democrats and that the ad­min­is­tra­tion had il­le­gally wire­tapped the phones of “en­e­mies”—in­clud­ing jour­nal­ists who had been crit­i­cal of Nixon.

While Nixon con­tin­ued to deny any in­volve­ment, it was re­vealed he rou­tinely made se­cret tapes of con­ver­sa­tions in his of­fice. At first he re­fused to turn over the tapes and when he did agree, it emerged some of them were miss­ing or had been de­stroyed. In the sum­mer of 1974 the House Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee ap­proved ar­ti­cles of im­peach­ment against the Pres­i­dent “for ob­struct­ing jus­tice.”

Call it para­noia if you wish: many reg­u­lar Saint Lu­cians take it for granted that their phones are il­le­gally wire­tapped. So do op­po­si­tion politi­cians, their friends and rel­a­tives, not to men­tion lo­cal jour­nal­ists who in­sist on do­ing their job to the best of their abil­ity. Far­fetched, you say? Tell that to the late Baje, one of the twelve ca­su­al­ties of al­leged “gross vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights.” Tell that to the govern­ment min­is­ters, busi­ness­men and, yes, cops fin­gered by Kenny An­thony’s IMPACS re­port. (By the way, I first en­coun­tered the late Baje at a Cas­tries restau­rant where he and a male com­pan­ion were in deep con­ver­sa­tion with a par­tic­u­lar govern­ment min­is­ter. And that min­is­ter was not Richard Fred­er­ick!)

I say this yet again to re­mind read­ers that some Caribbean heads of govern­ment, if they held equiv­a­lent po­si­tions in the UK, the United States, China, Iran or Tai­wan would’ve been hauled be­fore var­i­ous tri­bunals, at the very least, and, de­pen­dent on the re­sult, im­pris­oned, their as­sets con­fis­cated; or they would be forced to quit of­fice. They might even have been pub­licly ex­e­cuted.

We need not re­visit re­cent dis­as­ters in­volv­ing lead­ers of our sis­ter is­lands. Too of­ten the most se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions go unan­swered by fin­gered pub­lic of­fi­cials. Con­sider our own prime min­is­ter’s role in the Gryn­berg saga (much of it ad­mit­tedly still un­known to the ma­jor­ity of Saint Lu­cians); the Rochamel-Fren­well Af­fair; his se­cret ap­point­ment of a Saudi bil­lion­aire as our na­tion’s per­ma­nent rep­re­sen­ta­tive at the IMO; the ques­tion­able dec­o­ra­tion of a no­to­ri­ous Arab with our na­tion’s high­est honor. Demon­stra­bly, in this re­gion lead­ers of govern­ment be­have like an­cient kings; monar­chs of all they sur­vey; ac­count­able only to them­selves.

In­creas­ingly their demon­strated re­luc­tance to res­cue their re­spec­tive bro­ken jus­tice sys­tems, at the hor­rid ex­pense of their own peo­ple as well as oth­ers from France, the UK and other over­seas ter­ri­to­ries is be­com­ing be­come a ma­jor headache for all peo­ple com­mit­ted to hu­man rights.

On March 8, 2015 this na­tion’s prime min­is­ter an­nounced via TV that IMPACS had com­pleted its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into “all in­stances of al­leged ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings by mem­bers of the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force”—un­der­taken at the be­hest of the prime min­is­ter him­self. More­over, that “the find­ings of the in­ves­ti­ga­tors [were] ex­tremely damn­ing.” He went on to re­veal “th­ese find­ings re­late not only to those of­fi­cers who were in­volved in [Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence] but ad­di­tion­ally mem­bers of the high com­mand of the po­lice force who may have been in­volved in cov­er­ing up th­ese mat­ters.”

He said the re­port “con­firms that the black list or death lists ref­er­enced by the me­dia, hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions, vic­tims’ fam­i­lies and cit­i­zens alike did ex­ist.” (Ac­tu­ally the prime min­is­ter alone, by his own ad­mis­sion, had seen this death list in 2011 “while in op­po­si­tion.”) Alarm­ingly, said the prime min­is­ter, “the in­ves­ti­ga­tors re­port that all the shoot­ings re­viewed were fake en­coun­ters staged by the po­lice to le­git­imize their ac­tions . . . that the weapons sup­pos­edly found on the scene of the ex­tra ju­di­cial killings were from sources other than the vic­tims. The in­ves­ti­ga­tors say the weapons were planted on the scene of the shoot­ings . . .”

Shortly be­fore Christ­mas 2015, a vis­it­ing group of am­bas­sadors con­cerned about the al­leged il­le­gal po­lice shoot­ings re­vealed at a press con­fer­ence that they had ex­pressed to the prime min­is­ter their dis­ap­point­ment with the lack of due process since the prime min­is­ter’s pub­li­ca­tion of his IMPACS re­port. They re­vealed, too, that the prime min­is­ter had given them his word that he would do ev­ery­thing pos­si­ble to bring about a ju­di­cial res­o­lu­tion to the mat­ter.

On Jan­uary 15, 2016 the prime min­is­ter again ad­dressed the na­tion via TV. He said his govern­ment had noted the ex­pressed con­cerns of the United States Em­bassy as de­tailed in its press re­lease of Jan­uary 12, 2016. “While the em­bassy has quite rightly noted there has been no mean­ing­ful progress to­wards a crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion in the last ten months of those al­leged to have com­mit­ted ex­tra ju­di­cial killings, the em­bassy’s sug­ges­tion that this is or was due to in­ac­tion on the part of the prime min­is­ter or the govern­ment of Saint Lu­cia is mis­placed and un­jus­ti­fied.” He then pro­ceeded to blame the de­lay of promised due process on the DPP.

Ac­tu­ally, the cited em­bassy press re­lease in­cluded the fol­low­ing: “We re­spect Saint Lu­cia’s sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers but em­pha­size the en­tire govern­ment’s role in guar­an­tee­ing that each branch has the tools and re­sources to ful­fill its com­mit­ments to the rule of law. That said, the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions made a dis­ap­point­ing an­nounce­ment in Novem­ber, that her of­fice was not pro­vided suf­fi­cient re­sources or the re­port’s in­ves­tiga­tive files, thus pre­clud­ing fur­ther­ing crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion . . . We stand by our of­fer to as­sist Saint Lu­cia’s ef­forts to en­sure due process in the frame­work of Saint Lu­cia’s crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.”

The re­lease ended on the fol­low­ing omi­nous note: “A clear demon­stra­tion of the govern­ment of Saint Lu­cia’s com­mit­ment to the rule of law would ben­e­fit the peo­ple of Saint Lu­cia as well as Saint Lu­cia’s in­ter­na­tional stand­ing as a trusted, demo­cratic part­ner in eco­nomic and se­cu­rity co­op­er­a­tion.”

In his New Year’s mes­sage on Jan­uary 25 the prime min­is­ter seemed to have cast aside all ear­lier pledges con­cern­ing due process of the IMPACS is­sue. He said in a tele­vised ad­dress that his “govern­ment has en­gaged the ser­vices of a firm of lawyers op­er­at­ing in Wash­ing­ton to rep­re­sent us in dis­cus­sions with of­fi­cials of the State Depart­ment.”

He of­fered no de­tails con­cern­ing the lawyers, leav­ing the im­pres­sion, how­ever dis­com­bob­u­lat­ing, that the en­gaged lob­by­ists would be seek­ing to per­suade a change of at­ti­tude at the State Depart­ment to­ward the “al­leged gross vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights.”

More­over, in a state­ment this week given ex­clu­sively to a lo­cal TV sta­tion, the prime min­is­ter ac­knowl­edged that an Amer­i­can com­pany as­so­ci­ated with his govern­ment’s CIP pro­gram had vol­un­teered to en­gage a firm of Wash­ing­ton lawyers to per­form a clean-up job, with State Depart­ment as­sis­tance, in pur­suit of an over­seas im­age more at­trac­tive to po­ten­tial buy­ers of Saint Lu­cian cit­i­zen­ship. It turns out, dear reader, that noth­ing could be fur­ther from the truth. Stay tuned to this sta­tion.

Mean­while, con­sider the fol­low­ing re­cently tele­vised state­ment by Saint Lu­cia’s some­what chameleonic prime min­is­ter: “In pur­suit of jus­tice law mak­ers can­not per­mit them­selves to be seen as law break­ers!”

Seem­ingly with­out a care in the world, a beam­ing Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony en­joys a re­cent mo­ment of lev­ity at Govern­ment House, flanked by House Speaker Peter Foster QC (left) and win­ner of Kenny gold for jour­nal­ism Earl Bous­quet.

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