WHO LET THE DOGS OUT?

IS IT REAL OR IS IT FAKE?

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

Is Saint Lu­cia’s best kept se­cret about to be­come com­mon knowl­edge? Has clas­sifed re­port been de­lib­er­ately leaked? If so, by whom? And why?

It is of lit­tle value to make a state­ment to con­firm what is al­ready in the pub­lic do­main with­out pro­vid­ing some in­di­ca­tion of how the gov­ern­ment plans to re­solve the is­sues which con­front us. I shall there­fore try to be sim­ple and as clear as pos­si­ble so that all can un­der­stand the is­sues.”

The pre­ced­ing was how Saint Lu­cia’s prime min­is­ter, in a tele­vised ad­dress to the na­tion on the evening of Sun­day 20 Au­gust 2013, in­tro­duced what is ar­guably the big­gest threat to our long-stand­ing cher­ished re­la­tion­ships with the United States, the Euro­pean Union and sev­eral other coun­tries com­mit­ted to hu­man rights.

On the oc­ca­sion the prime min­is­ter re­minded the na­tion that “the cur­rent events have their ori­gin in the twelve in­di­vid­u­als who were shot and killed by police of­fi­cers be­tween 2010 and 2011.” He em­pha­sized that the al­leged police killings had oc­curred “dur­ing the ten­ure of the gov­ern­ment of the United Work­ers Party” af­ter its launch­ing of “what was then de­scribed in the me­dia and else­where as Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence.”

In truth, the police had them­selves named the cited op­er­a­tion. Just as they had named Op­er­a­tion Re­store Peace in 1998, nearly a year af­ter the elec­tion of Kenny Anthony’s Labour Party ad­min­is­tra­tion. On the evening of Au­gust 20, 2013, the prime min­is­ter re­vealed that in 2011, while his party was in op­po­si­tion, he had seen “a hit list of tar­geted per­sons deemed to be crim­i­nals,” some of whom had died at the hands of the police. He kept to him­self what had been his re­ac­tion.

The U.S. State Depart­ment, on the other hand, had fea­tured the fol­low­ing item in its 2011 Coun­try Re­port on Hu­man Rights Prac­tices in Saint Lu­cia: “There were twelve po­ten­tially un­law­ful fa­tal shoot­ings dur­ing the year, some re­port­edly com­mit­ted by of­fi­cers as­so­ci­ated with an ad­hoc task force within the police depart­ment.”

The re­port ref­er­enced no sources. By the prime min­is­ter’s ac­count, “the twelve po­ten­tially un­law­ful” deaths had led to U.S. sanc­tions against the Royal Saint Lu­cia Police Force, de­spite that six re­lated in­quests had re­turned ver­dicts of “death by law­ful act.”

The prime min­is­ter said it was “rea­son­ably clear [the U.S. State Depart­ment] does not have con­fi­dence in the out­come of the in­quests to bring those re­spon­si­ble for the killings to jus­tice,” oth­er­wise they would not have ceased fund­ing sev­eral ac­tiv­i­ties re­lated to the RSLPF.

“The pre­sump­tion seems to be that the killings were un­law­ful,” the prime min­is­ter said. On the other hand he ac­knowl­edged it was “un­de­ni­able that it is in our vi­tal in­ter­est to main­tain close ties with the United States in se­cu­rity mat­ters.” More­over: “From its first few months in of­fice” his gov­ern­ment had “al­ways un­der­stood the se­ri­ous­ness of the mat­ter and its im­pli­ca­tions for the police and the for­mer UWP po­lit­i­cal direc­torate.”

He said sev­eral police of­fi­cers had been dis­al­lowed from pro­ceed­ing on fur­ther train­ing or par­tic­i­pat­ing in pro­grams or­ga­nized or funded by the U.S. and that “the de­ci­sion has un­doubt­edly un­der­mined the morale of the police and tar­nished its rep­u­ta­tion.”

Fi­nally this: “It is in the in­ter­est of all con­cerned that the full facts of what oc­curred be dis­closed, not only to sat­isfy the United States but, im­por­tantly, to clear those of­fi­cers whose rep­u­ta­tions are at risk. Saint Lu­cia must have con­fi­dence in those who are charged with law en­force­ment.”

As for the vic­tims of the al­leged gross vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights, “they, too, need clo­sure,” the prime min­is­ter said.

In con­se­quence, the prime min­is­ter an­nounced his de­ci­sion to en­gage a group of CARICOM in­ves­ti­ga­tors who would be re­quired to “eval­u­ate all avail­able ev­i­dence and de­ter­mine whether or not these mat­ters war­rant fur­ther ac­tion.” In the mean­time, he promised, his gov­ern­ment would en­act new leg­is­la­tion to ac­com­mo­date his an­nounced de­ci­sion, “so as to en­sure such in­ves­ti­ga­tions en­joy the full pro­tec­tion of the law and that their find­ings are law­fully trans­mit­ted to the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions.”

Nearly two years fol­low­ing his above quoted ad­dress, the prime min­is­ter re­turned to TV to up­date the na­tion on the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He said he now had a re­port that was “ex­tremely damn­ing,” im­por­tant as­pects of which he pro­ceeded to re­veal so as to un­der­score “the ex­treme grav­ity of this mat­ter.” The find­ings re­lated not only to those of­fi­cers who were in­volved in Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence, he said, but ad­di­tion­ally to “mem­bers of the high com­mand of the police force who may have been in­volved in cov­er­ing up mat­ters.” More­over, the prime min­is­ter said the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tors had con­firmed “the black list or death lists ref­er­enced by the me­dia, hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions, vic­tims’ fam­i­lies and cit­i­zens alike did ex­ist.” Per­haps worse was that the in­ves­ti­ga­tion had re­ferred to “faked en­coun­ters” and “guns planted by the police at crime scenes.”

The above and sev­eral other shock­ing dis­clo­sures were made by the prime min­is­ter, de­spite that he was well aware “our Con­sti­tu­tion en­shrines three sep­a­rate arms of the state: the ex­ec­u­tive, leg­isla­tive and ju­di­cial.” In­deed, he promised he would “not al­low the ex­ec­u­tive which I lead to trans­gress the prov­ince of the other two arms.” He in­tended to “fully con­tinue re­spect­ing that sa­cred sep­a­ra­tion.” How­ever, none of that had pre­vented the prime min­is­ter (in pri­vate life a lawyer!) from dis­clos­ing vi­tal de­tails of the “ex­tremely damn­ing” re­port—and quite pos­si­bly jeop­ar­diz­ing fol­low-up le­gal ac­tion.

In all events the US. State Depart­ment and the 28-mem­ber-state EU were unim­pressed when late last year the DPP an­nounced un­der duress that a Sisyphean work­load and an egre­gious lack of re­sources had pre­vented her from pro­cess­ing sev­eral long-stand­ing cases, some of them as much re­lated to hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions as the IMPACS re­port she had re­ceived from the prime min­is­ter only af­ter he had pub­lished its con­tent via TV and the In­ter­net.

The DPP shook the na­tion to its core, shortly be­fore she left on pre-re­tire­ment leave, with her pub­lic an­nounce­ment that there was noth­ing in what the prime min­is­ter had passed on to her of­fice that would stand up in court. As if in con­fir­ma­tion of the DPP’s shock­ing state­ments, the Min­is­ter for Jus­tice ad­mit­ted to RSL’s Shel­ton Daniel that ev­i­dence, files and other sup­port­ive ev­i­dence had [in di­rect con­flict with the Police Com­plaints Act] been de­lib­er­ately with­held from the DPP be­cause of their “sen­si­tive na­ture.”

It came as a sur­prise when the prime min­is­ter, fol­low­ing a press con­fer­ence con­vened here by diplo­mats rep­re­sent­ing the EU, an­nounced in Jan­uary that he had hired a Wash­ing­ton law firm to ne­go­ti­ate some kind of set­tle­ment with the U.S. State Depart­ment. At their press con­fer­ence in late De­cem­ber the diplo­mats had re­vealed to re­porters the prime min­is­ter’s

prom­ise that by March 2016 the DPP’s of­fice would be ready to pros­e­cute those in­volved in the so-called “gross vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights by the police, politi­cians, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and busi­ness­men” fin­gered by the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tors. To date there has been no new word about changes at the of­fice of the DPP, nei­ther from the gov­ern­ment or the EU diplo­mats.

Mean­while there is the IMPACS re­port that was sup­posed to be so clas­si­fied that not even gov­ern­ment min­is­ters had pe­rused its pages, save per­haps the jus­tice min­is­ter. Imag­ine my shock, then, when I opened an un­marked en­ve­lope this week that had been anony­mously de­liv­ered to the STAR for my at­ten­tion. In dis­be­lief I stared at what ap­peared to be the cover of the IMPACS re­port. Then there were the loose pages that ac­com­pa­nied what looked like a dig­i­tal print­out. The pages were num­bered 86-89 and headed REC­OM­MEN­DA­TIONS, yes, in cap­i­tals.

I won­dered: Is this for real? Was some­one plan­ning to take me for a ride? How do I go about au­then­ti­cat­ing what I held in my hands? Most im­por­tantly, what do I do? Pre­tend I never re­ceived the un­marked en­ve­lope?

I de­cided to pub­lish some of what those al­leged pages of the se­cret IMPACS re­port rec­om­mended to the gov­ern­ment. 1) The Com­mis­sioner of Police is to take ul­ti­mate re­spon­si­bil­ity for the un­law­ful killings and must be made to ac­count as to why these killings con­tin­ued un­abated. It is rec­om­mended that pro­ce­dural steps be ini­ti­ated to re­view his ten­ure with a view of re­mov­ing him as Com­mis­sioner of Police. 8) All police of­fi­cers in­volved in the un­law­ful killings of cit­i­zens in re­spect of the files re­viewed must be pros­e­cuted. 10) Steps should be taken to im­prove the in­ves­tiga­tive and stor­age ca­pac­ity of the Royal Saint Lu­cia Police Force with re­gard to the han­dling and stor­age of ex­hibits. 11) Steps must be taken to im­prove the Foren­sic Lab­o­ra­tory to en­able it to ad­dress the stor­age is­sue and the ap­point­ment of a Bal­lis­tic Ex­pert. 12) Steps must be taken to ad­dress the speed at which mat­ters are pros­e­cuted and to re­move the six-month statu­tory lim­i­ta­tion to file civil ac­tion in in­stances of wrong­ful deaths. 16) The state should (a) in­ves­ti­gate al­le­ga­tions con­cern­ing past and re­cent vi­o­la­tions of the right to life; (b) pro­pose rel­e­vant mea­sures to tackle them; and (c) work out a plan of ac­tion for the fu­ture to erad­i­cate prac­tices of ex­tra­ju­di­cial ex­e­cu­tions.

In all, 31 rec­om­men­da­tions were listed. Cu­ri­ously, at least two were dis­closed by the prime min­is­ter him­self on the evening of March 8, 2015. So are the doc­u­ments I re­ceived the real Mc­Coy? If so, then is it pos­si­ble there are full copies of the IMPACS re­port float­ing around?

A few min­utes be­fore I sat down to write this fea­ture I took an “ID Un­known” call from a woman who re­fused to iden­tify her­self. All she wanted to know was whether I had re­ceived her “pack­age.”

I said I had and she said: “Very good. Ex­pect more.” “When?” I asked. And she said: “Wait and see!”

I am half hop­ing some­one’s play­ing me. But I can­not shake the feel­ing the se­crets of the clas­si­fied IMPACS re­port are se­cret no more. It re­mains now for the gov­ern­ment to say whether what I re­ceived this week is gen­uine, a shot in the dark or just an­other Rick Wayne lie.

Prime Min­is­ter Kenny Anthony: Has his vault been in­vaded? At left, al­leged pages from the se­cret

IMPACS re­port.

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