IMPACS HEADED FOR COURT!

GUY MAYERS SUES FOR­MER PM

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

It is an in­dis­putable truth that the com­bined ef­forts of the 28-mem­ber Euro­pean Union and the United States, on whom this na­tion has long de­pended for its se­cu­rity, a fact un­for­get­tably un­der­scored by the prime min­is­ter in na­tional ad­dresses de­liv­ered on 20 Au­gust 2013 and on 8 March 2015, have after four years failed to per­suade two lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tions to bring to a ju­di­cial res­o­lu­tion the issue pop­u­larly re­ferred to as IMPACS. In the cited first ad­dress Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony fi­nally con­firmed the U.S. govern­ment’s sus­pen­sion of all as­sis­tance to the Royal Saint Lucia Po­lice Force, on grounds that it was sus­pected of gross hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions, by which the State Depart­ment re­ferred to “twelve po­ten­tially un­law­ful fatal po­lice shoot­ings dur­ing the year [2010-2011], some re­port­edly com­mit­ted by of­fi­cers as­so­ci­ated with an ad­hoc task force within the po­lice depart­ment.”

The prime min­is­ter in his 2013 ad­dress fur­ther re­vealed that of­fi­cials of the United States had im­posed sanc­tions against the RSLPF “be­cause they are bound by law en­acted by the United States Congress.” He re­ferred specif­i­cally to the Leahy Law, named after Sen­a­tor Pa­trick Leahy, that for­bids the U.S. from fur­nish­ing as­sis­tance to “any unit of the se­cu­rity forces of a for­eign coun­try if the Secretary of State has “cred­i­ble in­for­ma­tion that such unit has com­mit­ted gross vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights.” More­over, that the men­tioned pro­hi­bi­tion “shall not ap­ply if the Secretary de­ter­mines and re­ports that the govern­ment of such coun­try is tak­ing ef­fec­tive steps to bring re­spon­si­ble mem­bers of the se­cu­rity unit to jus­tice.”

Ad­di­tion­ally: “In the event funds are with­held from any unit, the secretary of State shall promptly in­form the for­eign govern­ment of the ba­sis for such ac­tion and shall, to the max­i­mum ex­tent prac­ti­ca­ble, as­sist the for­eign govern­ment in tak­ing ef­fec­tive mea­sures to bring the re­spon­si­ble mem­bers of the se­cu­rity forces to jus­tice.”

Dur­ing his tele­vised ad­dress to the na­tion on 20 Au­gust 2013 the prime min­is­ter re­vealed that “the United States be­lieves it has cred­i­ble ev­i­dence that the of­fi­cers of the Royal Saint Lucia Po­lice Force com­mit­ted gross vi­o­la­tions of hu­man rights.” But then, he wryly re­minded view­ers, “those so-called re­spon­si­ble mem­bers would first have to be iden­ti­fied.” His govern­ment had al­ready fa­cil­i­tated coroners’ in­quests into most of the cited killings that re­sulted in ver­dicts of “death by law­ful act.” But since the United States had nev­er­the­less de­cided to im­pose sanc­tions on mem­bers of the po­lice force, the prime min­is­ter con­cluded, “it is rea­son­ably clear that it does not have con­fi­dence in the out­come of the in­quests to bring those re­spon­si­ble for the killings to jus­tice . . . The pre­sump­tion seems to be that the killings were un­law­ful.”

The prime min­is­ter ac­knowl­edged that it was in Saint Lucia’s “vi­tal in­ter­est to main­tain close ties of co­op­er­a­tion with the United States in se­cu­rity matters.” His govern­ment, from its first few months in of­fice, “had al­ways un­der­stood the se­ri­ous­ness of the mat­ter and its im­pli­ca­tions for the force and in­deed for the for­mer United Work­ers Party po­lit­i­cal direc­torate.” In con­se­quence of all that had hap­pened since the im­po­si­tion of the U.S. sanc­tions, of­fi­cers had turned against one another, the prime min­is­ter re­vealed. There had been much fin­ger­point­ing, ac­cu­sa­tions and counter ac­cu­sa­tions.

“The de­ci­sion has un­doubt­edly un­der­mined the morale of the po­lice force and tar­nished its rep­u­ta­tion,” said the prime min­is­ter. “For ex­am­ple our of­fi­cers can­not par­tic­i­pate in any pro­gram of train­ing in the Regional Se­cu­rity Ser­vices, once it is funded or or­ga­nized by the United States. This led to con­sid­er­able spec­u­la­tion among mem­bers of the units from other mem­ber states. This not a happy sit­u­a­tion.”

He said his govern­ment had taken fur­ther steps to help bring res­o­lu­tion to “this un­happy episode.” He had re­quest from CARICOM Im­ple­men­ta­tion Agency for Crime and Se­cu­rity to iden­tify three se­nior in­ves­ti­ga­tors from the re­gion to in­ves­ti­gate the so-call ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings; they will be asked to eval­u­ate all avail­able ev­i­dence and de­ter­mine whether these matters war­rant fur­ther ac­tion. The govern­ment would also “en­act new legislation to con­duct in­ves­ti­ga­tions of the type pro­posed so as to en­sure such in­ves­ti­ga­tions en­joy the full pro­tec­tion of the law and that the find­ings of any in­ves­ti­ga­tion are law­fully trans­mit­ted to the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions.”

Again the prime min­is­ter re­as­sured his au­di­ence he would work closely with the United States to re­solve the issue, be­cause Saint Lucia “val­ues its close co­op­er­a­tion with the U.S. in se­cu­rity matters . . . With­out this un­der­stand­ing and co­op­er­a­tion our bor­ders can never be se­cure,” he said. He de­liv­ered a some­what cryp­tic warn­ing: “At times like these spec­u­la­tion is rife. But we must fol­low the rule of law as en­shrined in our Con­sti­tu­tion. There can be no other way. We now reap the har­vest of rash de­ci­sions, par­tic­u­larly by pol­icy mak­ers anx­ious to gain quick res­o­lu­tions.”

On the evening of 8 March 2015 the prime min­is­ter again de­liv­ered a tele­vised ad­dress to the na­tion, this time to re­port re­ceipt of the find­ings of the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tion. He re­ferred this time to Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence, a po­lice ini­tia­tive aimed at bring­ing lo­cal crime un­der con­trol, in par­tic­u­lar ram­pant vi­o­lence. He cited a re­lated task force un­der “the di­rect com­mand of the deputy com­mis­sioner of po­lice.” He also named a sen­a­tor who had “min­is­te­rial re­spon­si­bil­ity for the po­lice,” and who had “briefed the pub­lic on changes ef­fected by his govern­ment.” He men­tioned some of the sanc­tions im­posed by the U.S. govern­ment, among them visa re­vo­ca­tions and the de­nial of en­try to the United States to the po­lice com­mis­sioner.

“The stark re­al­ity we con­front,” de­clared the prime min­is­ter, “is that the United States will only lift those sanc­tions if in their judg­ment all nec­es­sary cor­rec­tive steps have been taken. In ef­fect, if the sanc­tions are to be re­moved we must show proof that we are tak­ing cor­rec­tive steps to deal with the sit­u­a­tion. He said the IMPACS team had not com­prised just “three se­nior in­ves­ti­ga­tions from the re­gion” (as stated two years ear­lier) after all. It com­prised a team of eight Ja­maicans, among them “a bal­lis­tic [sic] ex­pert, a le­gal ad­vi­sor, a data en­try spe­cial­ist, a cy­ber-crime an­a­lyst and de­tec­tives.”

He said his pur­pose in read­ing to the world the find­ings of his in­ves­ti­ga­tion was “to bring home the ex­treme grav­ity of this mat­ter,” although he rec­og­nized the job of “pur­su­ing crim­i­nal charges is the pre­serve the Di­rec­tor of Pros­e­cu­tions . . .” He was cog­nizant, too, of the fact our con­sti­tu­tion en­shrines “three leg­isla­tive arms of the state: the Ex­ec­u­tive, Leg­isla­tive and the Ju­di­cial” and he would “not al­low the Ex­ec­u­tive that I lead to trans­gress the prov­ince of the two other arms.” He promised to “fully con­tinue re­spect­ing that sa­cred sep­a­ra­tion.”

How­ever, in his very next breath he pro­nounced the find­ings of his hired in­ves­ti­ga­tors “ex­tremely damn­ing,” then pro­ceeded to state some of them “to bring home the ex­treme grav­ity of this mat­ter” that re­lated to not only of­fi­cers in­volved in Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence but also “mem­bers of the high com­mand of the po­lice force who may have been in­volved in cov­er­ing up these matters. The prime min­is­ter also as­serted that “the re­port con­firms the black­list or death lists ref­er­enced by the me­dia, hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions, vic­tims’ fam­i­lies and ci­ti­zens did ex­ist.” Also that his in­ves­ti­ga­tors had de­clared “all the shoot­ings re­viewed were fake en­coun­ters staged by the po­lice to le­git­imize their ac­tions.” So much for the sep­a­ra­tion of pow­ers ear­lier ac­knowl­edged.

Es­pe­cially shock­ing was this line read out by the prime min­is­ter: “The crime prob­lem in Saint Lucia is fa­cil­i­tated by cor­rupt politi­cians, govern­ment of­fi­cials, busi­ness per­sons and po­lice of­fi­cers.” By his telling his in­ves­ti­ga­tors had re­ported on “an en­vi­ron­ment of im­punity and per­mis­sive­ness de­signed to achieve the de­sired re­sults. Will­ful blind­ness ex­isted in re­spect of the po­lice com­mis­sioner and par­tic­u­lar mem­bers of his lead­er­ship and man­age­ment team.”

It would emerge that the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions re­ceived a copy of the IMPACS re­port only after im­por­tant parts of it had been read to the world by the na­tion’s prime min­is­ter. Months later, she de­clared the IMPACS re­port a mess of al­le­ga­tions, sug­ges­tions, rec­om­men­da­tions but al­to­gether with­out sup­port­ive ev­i­dence. The last ob­ser­va­tion was sup­ported by both the jus­tice min­is­ter who de­clared the ev­i­dence “too sen­si­tive” for the DPP to han­dle, and the prime min­is­ter who said he could have told the DPP where to find the ev­i­dence: it was still with the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tors in Ja­maica. (As far as the pub­lic can tell, the planted guns and other ev­i­dence men­tioned in the prime min­is­ter’s ad­dress remain in Ja­maica!)

Two weeks ago lawyers rep­re­sent­ing the for­mer Min­is­ter for Home Af­fairs is­sued defama­tion writs against the for­mer prime min­is­ter and two lo­cal TV sta­tions. Among his sev­eral claims: that the prime min­is­ter had by his pub­lic state­ments held him “re­spon­si­ble for caus­ing mem­bers of the RSLPF to com­mit twelve ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings dur­ing Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence as al­leged by the con­tent of the IMPACS re­port; dur­ing his ten­ure as Min­is­ter for Home Af­fairs and Na­tional Se­cu­rity he abused the au­thor­ity of his of­fice as min­is­ter when he caused mem­bers of the RSLPF to com­mit twelve ex­tra ju­di­cial killings un­der the guise of Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence; that he cor­ruptly col­luded with other govern­ment of­fi­cials, busi­ness per­sons and po­lice of­fi­cers and in so do­ing caused mem­bers to com­mit twelve ex­tra ju­di­cial killings un­der the guise of Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence.

The claimant has in­sisted he was never fin­gered in any way by the IMPACS re­port, read in part by the for­mer prime min­is­ter dur­ing a tele­vised na­tional ad­dress. More­over that the then DPP had pub­licly stated her in­abil­ity to pros­e­cute those named by the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tors for lack of use­ful ev­i­dence. Ad­di­tion­ally coroners’ in­quests had failed to crim­i­nal­ize or im­pli­cate the claimant in any man­ner what­so­ever.

The TV sta­tions have both is­sued pub­lic apolo­gies as dic­tated by lawyers rep­re­sent­ing the for­mer min­is­ter. It re­mains now to be seen whether the an­tic­i­pated slan­der case will blow open the IMPACS issue that de­spite the ef­forts of both the U.S. and the EU has yet to re­ceive due process. Also in ques­tion, whether the civil case can pro­ceed be­fore the po­ten­tial crim­i­nal mat­ter can be re­solved. By re­li­able ac­count, the for­mer prime min­is­ter has promised vig­or­ously to de­fend him­self against the claims by the for­mer Min­is­ter for Home Af­fairs!

For­mer Prime Min­is­ter and con­sti­tu­tional law lec­turer Kenny An­thony: Will his com­ments in re­la­tion to Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence come back to haunt him?

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