St Lucia opposition seeks clarification on IMPACS investigation

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Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) (L) and Prime Minister Allen Chastanet
  • Credible prosecutions are a precursor if Leahy Law are to be lifted – 2013
  • I’ve done everything I can do – 2017
  • I honestly don’t know the status of IMPACS – 2018
  • Government was in dialogue with United States officials – 2019
  • Hoping that the new Joe Biden administration will remove the Leahy Law – 2020
  • Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and his team have been working very hard – 2021

CASTRIES, St Lucia – The government of Saint Lucia and prime minister Allen Chastanet, apparently admitted as early as 2017, that the issues arising from Operation Restore Confidence (ORC), the subsequent IMPACS report, and the imposition of the Leahy Law, that his administration is undeniable, a failure of epic proportions at solving a catastrophic problem of his infamous United Workers Party (UWP) own making. And while the grandstanding during the 2016 elections and now in government [for almost five years] “promised to speedily settle all issues arising out of the IMPACS report and would in effect make “IMPACS disappear in six months”, trust in domestic and international cycles on ending the failure/tragedy has succumb the Allen Chastanet led-administration to their familiar deception.

(Who knew that the proposed Border Control entity in Saint Lucia was … already funded?) (“To solve the crime problem it is a multi-faceted approach.”) (“Who knew that healthcare was so complicated?”) (Who knew that the Leahy Law sanctions were so complicated…?) (“Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) and his team have been working very hard.”)

In a press statement issued Monday, the Saint Lucia Labour Party (SLP) “called on the UWP government to clarify the situation regarding the status of the IMPACS report,” stating that “the labour party government had submitted the report to the then Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) in 2015.”

For background, in August 2013, prime minister Dr Kenny Anthony, announced that Saint Lucia is prohibited by the terms of what is commonly referred to as the Leahy Law from receiving security-related assistance from the US. The Leahy Law, named after its principal sponsor, Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, is a US human rights law that prohibits 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 a gross violation of human rights.

The prohibition under the Leahy Law is grounded in the killing of 12 individuals in the 2010/2011 Operation Restore Confidence (ORC) led by the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF) conceived by the then UWP government to contain a violent crime wave but, following the operation, members of the RSLPF were accused of several extrajudicial killings that, in the absence of any official action to hold those responsible to account, eventually led to the US sanctions under federal law [the Leahy Law] that prohibits foreign security forces credibly accused of human rights abuses from receiving US-sponsored assistance.

Notwithstanding the steps taken by the previous and current government of Saint Lucia to satisfy the US, that those responsible are brought to justice, and having requested US assistance in conducting polygraph or “lie detector” tests; inquests into the deaths of the 12 individuals, and anti-corruption law to curb officials that oftentimes engaged in corrupt practices with impunity, there seems no evidentiary value to proffer in a court of law and therefore, not a solution to the current perilous situation.

While much of the world’s attention has been on Saint Lucia over “gross human right violation” the administrative apparatus of governance that comprises the office of DPP, two ministers of foreign affairs, a prime minister, a justice minister, the office of the attorney general and the diplomatic corps, are yet to ensure that – credible prosecutions are a precursor if the sanctions imposed on the island’s security forces by the US under the Leahy Law are to be lifted.

Henceforth, a sequence for analysis:

  • In 2017 prime minister Chastanet, said: I’ve done everything I can do,” and in 2018 said: “I honestly don’t know the status of IMPACS.
  • March 2019, prime minister Chastanet, said: “Government was in dialogue with United States officials about reversing its decision to apply the Leahy Law on Saint Lucia.”
  • November 2020, the minister with responsibility for external affairs, Sarah Flood Beaubrun, said she is hoping that the new Joe Biden administration will remove the Leahy Law.
  • May 2021, prime minister Chastanet told reporters that the DPP and his team have been working very hard and that he believes we will see a conclusion to the ‘messyissue.

On the eve of the 2021 general elections and the voluminous promises listed in the UWP Manifesto of “smoke and mirrors”, IMPACS add to the list of falsehoods and trickery.

Furthermore, while “the SLP is calling on the UWP government to keep its promise to the RSLPF to resolve the issue and bring an end to the unnecessary pain and suffering of all those involved in this unfortunate event,” sources indicate that most of the police officers involved in ORC/IMPACS “are desperately negotiation their future at another such meeting, held last week in the northern part of the island.”

Minister for home affairs, justice and national security, Hermangild Francis, who now realise that prosecution for extrajudicial killings are required, stated to the best of his ability, in June of 2020:

“What the Americans was saying is that they want prosecutions, but the Americans cannot dictate exactly what you do …  the DPP is a constitutional position and no minister of government, no prime minister, nobody can tell him exactly what to do, so what he will do is, when he gets all the evidence and he is satisfied that he can proceed,” Francis said, adding the United States will have to live with whatever decision that is taken. “I am sure that at the end of the day, before the next election, that we would have done something in relation to the IMPACS report,” Francis declared.

In a news report May 11, 2021, titled IMPACS: Hermangild Francis blames Dr Kenny Anthony … that attempted to “retraced the history of the IMPACS saga” added, “Francis told reporters that before the 2011 elections, Dr Anthony and other labour party officials visited the US embassy in Barbados.” He said: “they gave the Americans damning information about a member of the UWP at the time. As a result, Francis said, the Americans revoked the individual’s visa. […]”  

The report continued: “As a result, Francis indicated that Dr Anthony and the SLP delegation had in effect, fooled the Americans.”

He [Francis] also denied having said on the campaign trail that the UWP would fix the IMPACS matter within six months. “That statement was never said,” Francis asserted. But he recalled saying that whichever party won the elections would have a difficult time in dealing with the IMPACS report,” and according to the news report “Having become the minister, I realise the precipice we are encountering,” he stated.

The SLP’s foremost option for clarification on the IMPACS investigation is enclosed in the IMPACS report that some privileged personnel have seen, read, and have access to in part (s) and/or in its entirety. The other option lies in other related publications, and some of the police officers involved in ORC, who are none the wiser on there future.

To rely on the UWP/Chastanet-led government, who “believes we will see a conclusion to the ‘messy’ issue,” yet he “cannot give a timeline as this would be influencing the process,” speaks to the helplessness of resources, that are not at the disposal of this government to resolve these complex circumstances.

“Saint Lucia is in a perilous situation and will have to make the next big shift and not succumb to the herd mentality and common politics,” said a #CNG consultant.

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