Will PM dis­mount IMPACS tiger be­fore Polling Day?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

By Rick Wayne

Iam re­li­ably in­formed that an in­quest sched­uled for Wed­nes­day this week into the May 5, 2011 deaths of five men in Vieux Fort proved a non­starter. An ear­lier at­tempted hear­ing last Wed­nes­day, also presided over by the mag­is­trate Robert In­no­cent, barely got un­der­way. This week the prin­ci­pals claimed pre-trial pub­lic­ity threat­ened their right to a fair hear­ing.

Last Sun­day Saint Lu­cia’s prime min­is­ter an­nounced at an SLP rally that UWP leader Allen Chas­tanet had “threat­ened” to make pub­lic the so-called IMPACS re­port, at the risk of mak­ing it near im­pos­si­ble to pros­e­cute as­so­ci­ated sus­pects. Con­trary to the Po­lice Com­plaints Act, even be­fore the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions had been af­forded an op­por­tu­nity to pe­ruse its con­tent, the prime min­is­ter had him­self made pub­lic much of the re­port he ini­ti­ated nearly three years ago.

When in self-de­fense she ad­dressed the re­port at a press con­fer­ence shortly be­fore set­ting out on pre­re­tire­ment leave, the DPP re­vealed that while it con­tained al­le­ga­tions of the worst kind, rec­om­men­da­tions and shock­ing ac­cu­sa­tions, there was noth­ing in the doc­u­ment that could use­fully be taken to court. Ahead of the DPP’s state­ment the prime min­is­ter had cited large sec­tions of the re­port by eight Ja­maican in­ves­ti­ga­tors dur­ing a March 2015 ad­dress to the na­tion.

At the time he spoke of “fake en­coun­ters” staged by the po­lice and planted weapons at the scene of fa­tal shoot­ings. He also pointed an ac­cusatory fin­ger at the then po­lice com­mis­sioner, per­son­nel from the pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tion and busi­ness peo­ple he claimed fa­cil­i­tated crim­i­nal­ity in Saint Lu­cia. He said the re­port was “damn­ing,” to the ex­tent the Ja­maican in­ves­ti­ga­tors had strongly rec­om­mended sus­pects be pros­e­cuted.

Since then the prime min­is­ter has openly ac­cused iden­ti­fied mem­bers of the Stephen­son King ad­min­is­tra­tion of “re­spon­si­bil­ity” for all that led up to IMPACS. Re­cently the for­mer Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Guy May­ers an­nounced he had in­structed his lawyers to take le­gal ac­tion on his be­half fol­low­ing a par­tic­u­lar an­nounce­ment by the prime min­is­ter.

This week an EU del­e­ga­tion met with the prime min­is­ter for the sec­ond time in five months to be up­dated on his ef­forts at prose­cut­ing the IMPACS re­port. Af­ter­ward the am­bas­sadors is­sued the fol­low­ing press re­lease: “The meet­ing was agreed with the prime min­is­ter in Jan­uary on the ba­sis of ex­pec­ta­tions to have the va­can­cies of the po­lice com­mis­sioner and the di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tions filled by this time. It was a joint un­der­stand­ing that these re­cruit­ments are nec­es­sary to launch a proper in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions of ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings of 2010-2011 and the IMPACS in­ves­tiga­tive re­port, so that due process can be guar­an­teed.”

More­over: “The Euro­pean diplo­mats noted that the va­cancy of the po­lice com­mis­sioner was of­fi­cially filled from 1 April. They also noted that the re­cruit­ment of the di­rec­tor of pub­lic pros­e­cu­tion, though de­layed, is now un­der­way with in­ter­views sched­uled for May. The Euro­pean del­e­ga­tion re­it­er­ated the im­por­tance of the new DPP, when ap­pointed, tak­ing up al­le­ga­tions of ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings as a pri­or­ity and for the govern­ment of Saint Lu­cia to pro­vide all the nec­es­sary re­sources that the due process will re­quire, in full re­spect of the in­de­pen­dence of the ju­di­ciary branch.”

The re­lease un­der­scored the proper res­o­lu­tion of the IMPACS is­sue would “boost the coun­try’s in­ter­na­tional rep­u­ta­tion as re­gard­ing the up­hold­ing of the gen­eral prin­ci­ple of the rule of law, an in­trin­sic part of demo­cratic gover­nance.”

The EU del­e­ga­tion re­peated its of­fer of sup­port with the gen­eral back­logs in the jus­tice sys­tem in Saint Lu­cia . . . through in­ter­ven­tions fi­nanced un­der the Re­gional In­dica­tive Pro­gram from the 11th Euro­pean Devel­op­ment Fund.

Fi­nally: “The Euro­pean and mem­ber states will con­tinue to mon­i­tor the fol­low-up given to se­ri­ous ac­cu­sa­tions of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings in Saint Lu­cia.”

The EU re­lease, if only in part, gen­er­ated its own ques­tions—for in­stance, its ref­er­ence to the va­cant post of po­lice com­mis­sioner. Was Saint Lu­cia ever with­out a po­lice com­mis­sioner, if only in an act­ing po­si­tion—as has been the case since the “vol­un­tary” re­tire­ment of Ver­non Fran­cois?

Did the prime min­is­ter not say sev­eral weeks ago that the pros­e­cu­tion of IMPACS had more to do with an un­co­op­er­a­tive DPP than with money?

Doubt­less, the prime min­is­ter will be re­quired to say a word or two on the sta­tus of IMPACS be­fore Polling Day!

EU rep­re­sen­ta­tives: L-R Eric de La Mous­saye, French Am­bas­sador to the OECS; Mikael Bar­fod, EU Head of Del­e­ga­tion: Vic­to­ria Dean, Bri­tish High Com­mis­sioner to Bar­ba­dos and the Eastern Caribbean.

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