Does for­mer PM know who rat­ted on lo­cal cops to US?

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - By Peter Josie The au­thor is a for­mer min­is­ter of gov­ern­ment.

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.

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