Does former PM know who ratted on local cops to US?
No one has kept the IMPACS Report and its possible negative fallout on Saint Lucia alive and in the public forum more than Rick Wayne. Rick has carved a special niche for himself in local journalism but even he seems reluctant to delve too deeply into the issue, preferring to leave it to the courts (Father Time?) for final resolution. Those who have followed him on TALK and his writings on the subject will readily agree.
The IMPACS (Implementing Agency for Crime and Security in Caricom) Report resulted from investigations into killings allegedly by members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force in 2010-11. The probe was carried out by specially imported Jamaican police personnel in 2013, when Kenny Anthony was the island’s prime minister. As a consequence of the alleged extra-judicial killings (some blame the previous government’s reluctance to investigate) pressure was brought to bear by the U.S. State Department on the day’s government.
It should surprise no one that it was the opposition, during its 2011 election campaign, that had first suggested the deaths were unlawful; the King government’s way of dealing with violent crime. One particular member of the opposition went so far as to claim he had seen “a death list” that included the names of “citizens deemed to be criminals”. To this day, no one, not even the notoriously investigative Rick Wayne, has been able to tell us who put together the list, who provided it to the opposition, how the party concluded the pictures and names featured were marked for death. Or indeed, whether anyone reported the existence of such a list to the appropriate authorities.
The IMPACS Report has been around for at least two years. Perhaps the island needs further foreign professional intervention if there is to be proper resolution of the matter. Human rights lawyers on the island have insisted that the government needs to prosecute suspects. But then, who are the suspects? No one has been arrested in connection with the so-called “gross human rights violations”. The US and EU have added their own voices, echoing the human rights activists.
Why didn’t the previous government announce the result of its investigation, perchance to bring the issue to a useful conclusion? This, dear reader, is the million dollar question.
With a new government in office since June 6, 2016, one fully expected the now opposition to assist in bringing IMPACS to a conclusion. After all, the delay is daily proving more and more costly to the nation. Lo and behold, the usual political trickery has prevailed. The usual SLP loudmouths are using every trick at their disposal to make it appear IMPACS had always been a creation of the current administration, never mind the actual record. Meanwhile, the sword of Damocles hangs over the heads of the people of Saint Lucia. The entire Royal Saint Lucia Police Force remains tarnished, suspect, embarrassed and worried about its future. A former commissioner was sacrificed after the former prime minister claimed on TV that the report had deemed the police chief complicit in whatever went on (still to be established by the proper authorities).
The people of Saint Lucia were disturbed to learn the popular commissioner may have been forced out of his job even before the IMPACS Report had reached the hands of the Director of Public Prosecutions.
In the meantime, despite the findings of several inquests (see Writings on the Wall in this issue), the EU and the U.S. have reiterated their calls for “credible investigation and prosecutions according to the laws of Saint Lucia”. Why did the former government that initiated the IMPACS investigation refuse to follow through? Another million-dollar question!
What is the next step? How does the present government tackle this monster with countless legs? Even Rick Wayne has shied away from this question, on the grounds, as he says, there are those better qualified to answer. Turning the IMPACS Report into a football to be kicked around by politicians and their surrogates adds nothing to the economic and social advancement of the island. What it does is promote our fast developing image as a country that has next to no respect for human rights.
If the steps demanded by the U.S. and EU cannot be met, should those in possession of the “secret” report leak to the public its thirty-something recommendations, at the very least? Will the IMPACS Report be made a public document and tabled in the House? How long before a new DPP is appointed? It’s been over six months since the controversial departure of Victoria Charles-Clarke. Will we hear soon the options open to the new government? Come to that, is IMPACS frightening off applicants for the position of DPP? Even an advertised salary increase has failed to attract suitable candidates.
Finally, will a full prosecution of the alleged killings perchance uncover the whistle-blowers? Several inquests have found the police in this matter did nothing unlawful. But that did not prevent the former prime minister from taking what he described as “corrective steps”. Corrective of what? He has also stated on TV that businessmen and politicians were involved in the alleged criminality. Does the former prime minister also know who ratted on the police to the Americans? Saint Lucians have a right to know!
Mr. Vernon Francois: It remains unclear why the wellloved former police commissioner was twice asked by the PSC to resign in the public interest before he finally settled for “voluntary retirement” last year.