STAR Per­son of the Year 2018

The Star (St. Lucia) - - COMMENT - Rick Wayne

Along time ago he had learned from close ob­ser­va­tion how ad­dic­tive was praise and the count­less con­se­quences at­tached to the ad­dic­tion. It was next to im­pos­si­ble to know for cer­tain when the words that fell out of a man's mouth pro­ceeded from his heart. And even then, who could tell by look­ing at a man's face when his heart was pure and when it was, well, pure evil?

Yes, so even as a young boy he had ac­quired the wis­dom to trust first of all his own in­stincts, to op­er­ate at all times by the book and to be al­ways ac­count­able for his de­ci­sions. It will come as no sur­prise, then, that some who claim to know him well de­scribe him in terms al­to­gether con­tra­dic­tory. A small sam­ple: naïve; cal­cu­lat­ing; hum­ble; se­cretly am­bi­tious; a bit loose in the head; stub­born; un­pre­dictable.

Then again, there is the id­iom “you can't judge a book by its bind­ing,” that first ap­peared in a 1944 edi­tion of the African jour­nal Amer­i­can

Speech, and was mod­i­fied in 1946 by Lester Fuller and Ed­win Rolfe in Mur­der in the Glass

Room to “you can never tell a book by its cover!”

Those who pre­fer to wres­tle with Scrip­ture may wish to con­sider the Apos­tle John's “do not judge by ap­pear­ances, but judge with the right judg­ment.” The ques­tion re­mains: Who de­ter­mines the right judg­ment? Un­der our le­gal sys­tem the de­ter­mi­na­tion is made by a judge and a jury com­pris­ing peers of the ac­cused af­ter metic­u­lous anal­y­sis of the ev­i­dence be­fore a court. But as Ge­orge Or­well re­minds: “All an­i­mals are equal but some an­i­mals are more equal than oth­ers.”

Were it not so, no elected rep­re­sen­ta­tive of the peo­ple could on the one hand shout out loud to the world that “our Con­sti­tu­tion en­shrines three sep­a­rate arms of the State— the Ex­ec­u­tive, the Leg­isla­tive and the Ju­di­cial. I will not al­low the Ex­ec­u­tive which I lead to trans­gress the prov­ince of the other two arms. I in­tend to fully con­tinue re­spect­ing that sa­cred sep­a­ra­tion,” and on the other de­clare, with ref­er­ence to a mat­ter yet to come be­fore a prop­erly con­sti­tuted tri­bunal: “I can re­port that the find­ings of the in­ves­ti­ga­tors are ex­tremely

damn­ing. I will state some of these find­ings tonight to bring home to you the ex­treme

grav­ity of this mat­ter. The find­ings re­late not only to those of­fi­cers who were in­volved in the op­er­a­tions but ad­di­tion­ally, mem­bers of the High Com­mand who may have been in­volved in cov­er­ing up this mat­ter.”

Ad­di­tion­ally: “The re­port con­firms that the ‘black list or death lists' ref­er­enced by the me­dia, hu­man rights or­ga­ni­za­tions, vic­tims' fam­i­lies and cit­i­zens alike did ex­ist . . . All the shoot­ings re­viewed were fake en­coun­ters staged by the po­lice to le­git­imize their ac­tions . . . Weapons sup­pos­edly found at the scene of the al­leged ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings were from sources other than the vic­tims. The in­ves­ti­ga­tors say that the weapons were planted on the scene of the shoot­ings.”

As if al­ready he had not “trans­gressed the prov­ince of the two other arms” ear­lier men­tioned, the leader of the Ex­ec­u­tive said: “The re­port has also rec­om­mended that some se­nior po­lice of­fi­cers be held ac­count­able for their ac­tions or for their fail­ure to take ap­pro­pri­ate ac­tion when the al­leged killings oc­curred.” The in­ves­ti­ga­tors had also con­cluded that what op­er­ated . . . “was an en­vi­ron­ment of im­punity and per­mis­sive­ness de­signed to achieve the de­sired re­sults.”

Per­haps most shock­ing of the widely dis­sem­i­nated rev­e­la­tions was this: “Will­ful blind­ness ex­isted in re­spect of the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice and par­tic­u­lar mem­bers of his lead­er­ship and man­age­ment team.” (All the above em­phases mine.)

Not long af­ter­ward the Pub­lic Ser­vice Com­mis­sion took the un­prece­dented step of an­nounc­ing the po­lice com­mis­sioner had been in­vited via two let­ters to “re­sign in the pub­lic in­ter­est.”

Never be­fore had the con­sti­tu­tional rights of a cit­i­zen of Saint Lu­cia, with or without a crim­i­nal his­tory, been so cal­lously tram­pled un­der­foot. And cer­tainly not by an of­fi­cial who had sworn on the Bi­ble to de­fend the Con­sti­tu­tion and the rights it be­stows on all cit­i­zens. Even sus­pects were to be deemed “in­no­cent un­til proven guilty.”

The na­tion fully ex­pected the fin­gered po­lice chief to stand up in de­fense of not only his own rights but also on be­half of oth­ers not nearly as well placed to speak up for them­selves. Alas, not a word not a word not a word! There was much

spec­u­la­tion about what he was up to, why he had dis­ap­peared as if from the face of the earth. And yes, many of the of­fi­cers who had looked up to him in ear­lier times abruptly started re­con­sid­er­ing, if only mut­edly, their ear­lier as­sess­ment of their for­mer chief—es­pe­cially af­ter it was bruited about that he had ac­cepted a golden hand­shake from the same govern­ment that had so bru­tal­ized his rep­u­ta­tion and by extension the good name of ev­ery straight mem­ber of the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force.

And then there he was on TV, larger than life, more re­laxed than he’d ap­peared in a long, long time, seem­ingly without a care in the world. He had writ­ten a book point­edly en­ti­tled Re­stored Con­fi­dence, an ob­vi­ous play on Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence—a po­lice ini­tia­tive launched on 30 May 2010, in the time of the Stephenson King ad­min­is­tra­tion. The book’s sub­ti­tle: “My Jour­ney in the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force.” The front cover fea­tured a head­shot of the au­thor in cer­e­mo­nial tu­nic taken in the sunny out­doors, his eyes and most of the left side of his face ef­fec­tively oblit­er­ated by the shadow of his of­fi­cial head gear. In much clearer view are his epaulet de­pict­ing the Queen’s crown, and the sil­ver badge that is the na­tion’s Coat of Arms pinned to his cap. Out­stand­ing is his smile, as in­scrutable as the eyes of a Buck­ing­ham Palace Guards­man on duty.

Re­leased in Au­gust 2018, the book was fa­vor­ably re­viewed at home and abroad by pro­fes­sion­als as well as by reg­u­lar readers. As for our nor­mally gar­ru­lous politi­cians, it was as if Re­stored

Con­fi­dence had never been writ­ten. There was pal­pa­ble si­lence even from the man whose name is the first men­tioned in the book, and ap­pears in the se­cond para­graph of its pref­ace on page 4: “Fol­low­ing for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony’s in­flam­ma­tory ad­dress to the na­tion con­cern­ing the Ja­maican in­ves­ti­ga­tion into lo­cal po­lice op­er­a­tions in 2011, I had some de­ci­sions to make. My in­stinct was to stick around and fight to pro­tect my char­ac­ter and in­tegrity. I con­sid­ered ven­ti­lat­ing the mat­ter in the courts. I had no doubt truth was on my side. Through­out my ca­reer I had op­er­ated above board and knew I had al­ways acted pro­fes­sion­ally. I knew too that I had spent my life fight­ing op­pres­sive and ne­far­i­ous be­hav­iour with re­spect to hu­man rights and hu­man dig­nity at the fore­front of my ev­ery in­ter­ac­tion. I could also have taken to the me­dia in de­fense of my char­ac­ter. I did not en­vis­age any difficulty de­fend­ing my ac­tions be­fore, dur­ing and af­ter Op­er­a­tion Re­store Con­fi­dence.

“I de­cided on none of the above cour­ses of ac­tion. I took no one to court; I did not jump up in de­fense of my char­ac­ter; I granted no in­ter­views. I qui­etly re­turned to life as a pri­vate cit­i­zen and whereas I wished my for­mer col­leagues only the best, I had no de­sire to get in­volved in their sit­u­a­tion. I de­ter­mined the best way to re­late my story was not in the form of an au­to­bi­og­ra­phy, as I had con­tem­plated, and chose in­stead to en­cap­su­late my jour­ney in the po­lice force in this book care­fully en­ti­tled Re­stored Con­fi­dence. “An­other mo­ti­va­tion for writ­ing Re­stored

Con­fi­dence was to chal­lenge the ir­re­spon­si­ble and al­to­gether bo­gus ad­dress de­liv­ered by the then Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony on 8 March 2015. My re­sponse to var­i­ous as­pects of the ad­dress is in­tended to lay out the truth of the events of 2011. I have also uti­lized the oc­ca­sion to ad­vance the po­lit­i­cal rea­sons be­hind the United States govern­ment’s im­po­si­tion of the Leahy Sanc­tions, in the process sac­ri­fic­ing the Royal Saint Lu­cia Po­lice Force.”

To date—that is to say, over six years since the sanc­tions were im­posed—there has been no vis­i­ble progress with re­gard to “a cred­i­ble ju­di­cial res­o­lu­tion” of the so­called ex­tra-ju­di­cial killings al­legedly by mem­bers of the RSLPF. Many are of the view that the IMPACS re­port is for sev­eral rea­sons un­pros­e­cutable. But the vast ma­jor­ity of Saint Lu­cians be­lieve of­fi­cials im­mo­bi­lized, as much by fear for their own safety and the safety of their loved ones, as by what a se­ri­ous pros­e­cu­tion might un­cover. Af­ter all, the IMPACS re­port, ac­cord­ing to then Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony, says lo­cal crime “is fa­cil­i­tated by mem­bers of the force, politi­cians and cer­tain busi­ness­men.” The mur­der last Novem­ber of the wife of a po­lice of­fi­cer has been linked to the IMPACS re­port!

Mean­while, one man has shown the courage to take the bull by the horns. By the pub­li­ca­tion of his book he has demon­strated his readi­ness to con­front in the open what­ever dragons have taken refuge in “the sys­tem” they con­trol. Es­pe­cially in this hour of Ja­mal Khashoggi, we at the STAR can think of none more de­serv­ing of our Per­son of the Year award than Ver­non Fran­cois!

When the for­mer Prime Min­is­ter Kenny An­thony (right) ini­ti­ated the IMPACS in­ves­ti­ga­tion in Jan­uary of 2012, he knew (as he stated in 2015) it would re­sult in “deep wounds.” Act­ing Po­lice Com­mis­sioner Ver­non Fran­cois (above) was con­firmed in his po­si­tion by the same Kenny An­thony ad­min­is­tra­tion on 1 May 2012. He suf­fered his own 911 three years later when he re­signed un­der pres­sure!

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Saint Lucia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.