The people of Dennery have struggled with a water crisis. The community has faced challenges with supply, access, and water quality. During five long years, the UWP did nothing to address the situation. The SLP is committed to solving this problem and granting the people of Dennery the standards of living they deserve.
We knew something had to be done. So, we looked all over, and, thinks to our work, we found a partner in the Mexican government. Together, we will deliver the Dennery Water Supply Redevelopment project. The project involves water intake and treatment construction, water transmission, installation of storage tanks and pumping facilities, and network distribution upgrades. In as little as 18 months, Dennery residents will have access to a consistent supply of clean water.
We believe in keeping our promises. We believe every Saint Lucian should have consistent access to quality water. We believe in Saint Lucia.
Prime Minister Dr. Kenny Anthony did the right thing. He did the courageous thing. In an editorial in this week’s The Voice, Stephen Lester Prescott explains:
Imagine that, a Prime Minister who inherited the tragedy from the last UWP administration is now being blamed for giving the people of our country no more than a minimal insight into events that led to the inquiry and the conclusions of the investigators. Whilst all right-thinking individuals, here and abroad, are praising the Prime Minister’s courage in having lived up to his oath of office, a small cadre of individuals seek to suggest otherwise. One week, the Leader of the Opposition, Dr Gail Rigobert, publicly denounces what she claimed to have been the Prime Minister’s procrastination in making the Report’s contents public. The following week after Prime Minister Anthony gives a sneak peek into the horrific findings, the same Leader of the Opposition cries foul, saying the Prime Minister should have said nothing. A better example of speaking from both sides of one’s mouth would be difficult to find. Little wonder she has been described as a “two-timer”.
Last Tuesday’s Voice editorial itself seemed to be chiding the Prime Minister for doing the right thing of putting the matter in the hands of the Director of Public Prosecutions, instead of silently handing the Report to her and saying nothing. In that editorial, the grave and damning charge of Pontius Pilate’s behaviour is launched against Prime Minister Anthony.
The inquiring media which likes to give its political insights to the public free of charge has, on this occasion, done nothing to enlighten the public on what has given rise to the present situation. They have chosen to remain silent even though they could well have enlightened without compromising any projected judicial proceedings.
The media seems instead intent on creating an impression that the Labour government – which was in opposition during the events under review – bears major responsibility for upsetting sections of the police force, when in fact, all that has been done is the presentation of a carefully crafted exposition by the Prime Minister, himself an experienced practitioner in the field of constitutional and administrative law.
Surprisingly – then again, perhaps not – there seems to have been little if any interest by that same media to seek answers from the leadership of the UWP Government during whose tenure the events under review occurred. So, though the current Leader of the Opposition, a highly paid consultant under the UWP regime, screams for the Report to be made public, not a single reporter bothered to enquire of her what were her views on what transpired during the years in which she was ensconced in government offices; or whether she had a concern, during her government’s tenure, that there were grounds for an investigation into the behaviour of the police. No one asked her why she chose to have kept silent on the matter.
Instead, the Leader of the Opposition and her colleagues preferred then and continue to prefer now, to let public anxiety run rife, instead of standing behind the Prime Minister’s courageous action, and assuring the public that not only was the right action taken , but in the circumstances the action taken was only permissible one.
The article goes on to ask some important questions the UWP needs to answer:
Should the relevant UWP government actors of the time not be grilled by the press on their perceptions of what happened at the time? Should they not have been grilled on why they took no action in respect of persistent allegations of undesirable, perhaps unlawful, behaviour by the police? Should these former ministers not have been questioned on what their response was to the ever increasing United States pressure to investigate what had occurred? Shouldn’t Guy Mayers, the former Home Affairs Minister be asked whether he encouraged or supported the actions of the police officers who were involved? Did not former Minister, the ever-loquacious, Guy Joseph, not deserve some questions on the matter, beyond a mere reporting of his usual defensive rantings?
In addition, few commentators have taken the time, in the interest of public enlightenment, to investigate, and then indicate to the public, the course of external action which led to the investigation. Few commentators have sought to enlighten the public on the nature, and the reasons for, the obvious pressure to pursue action exerted by the government of the United States, under virtual threat of squeezing St Lucia like a lemon.
Should there not have been some discussion on the nature of that pressure, and what it has done to the reputation of St Lucia, a small country with barely enough resources to expend expensive enquiries?
Should our press and its ever ready penchant to criticize the present government, not have taken the time to make some enquiry from the United States as to what efforts they are willing to make to assist the government to come to terms with the results of the inquiry?
Should someone, in the press especially, not have publicly queried whether the threat of the United States to desist from assistance to St Lucia would be beneficial to our country in the long run? Should there not have been some concern expressed as to whether these kinds of pressures are appropriate between countries in this hemisphere basically on the side of the US in its various activities?
These questions must be answered. What we do know is that in the face of much difficulty, the Prime Minister was dealt a difficult situation and showed real leadership. He informed the people of the troubling situation. And, he’s letting the DPP do it’s job to bring justice for the victims and our society. He did the right thing and that’s why we’re proud to have him in office in these difficult times.
On Sunday, Minister Alvina Reynolds was on fire! She talked aout the many good things that are happening in the Babboneau constituency. And, then, she lit the crowd up by taking the fight to flip flopper Opposition Leader Gale Rigobert. Watch here:
Minister Reynolds made a passionate statement turning Ms. Rigobert's snide comment against her. The Minister is not like UWP Leader Allen Chastanet - a rich man who only cares about enriching himself - Alvina Reynolds is from the roots and understands the struggles of ordinary people. And, she represents those struggles every day in her Ministry and in her fierce advocacy for the development of her constituency.
The response of the the Leader of the Opposition to the Prime Minister's address is both contradictory and completely out of order. Just last month, the Hon. Gale Rigobert challenged the Prime Minister to address the nation on the topic. Now, she's attacking him for making the address. Pure politics.
Not only are Ms. Rigobert's comments contradictory, they are also divisive in a time when we need to come together as a community. No one would deny the need to protect witnesses and to protect an investigation. If you were accused of a crime, the investigation is never made public prior to the proper judicial procedures being followed. That's what should happen in this case. The fact that Ms. Rigobert is challenging this core tenet of our justice system is beyond troubling.
Now is not the time to engage in petty politics. Now is the time for us to stand by our institutions and come together to weather this storm and emerge stronger as a nation. The Prime Minister is showing strong and prudent leadership and should be supported during this difficult time for our nation.
The last few days have been challenging times for our country. Our institutions have been tested. Our society has been tested. And, we can and will overcome. There are some in the community that are clamoring for the Prime Minister to take action that could put witnesses at risk and undermine our justice system. That would be the wrong move at this time. Instead, the prudent move is the one he is taking: believe in our justice system and let the DPP do her work.
The DPP has the ability to bring charges against all those whom there is enough evidence. That evidence is then presented in a court of law and innocence or guilt is determined. That is how our system works. The worst course of action right now would be to undermine our system. Think of it this way: in normal investigations into crimes, the police do not publicly release the results of the investigation to the alleged perpetrators before the criminal trial proceedings begin. That doesn't happen. So, why should we do it in this case? We are a country of laws. We are a people who respect laws. And, that is how we must conduct ourselves.
Investors and the international community are respecting our decision to follow the proper procedures and to believe in our system. We ask that you do the same. This is not a matter for politics. This is a matter for our justice system. Believe in our justice system. Believe in our people. And, that's why now, more than ever, it's time for all of us to believe in Saint Lucia, our people and our future.
Last night, Prime Minister Dr. Kenny D. Anthony addressed the nation on the topic of the investigation into alleged extra-judicial killing by the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force. Watch the remarks:
Read the remarks:
INTRODUCTION: A DIFFICULT ISSUE
Fellow Saint Lucians, citizens, ladies and gentlemen, good evening to one and all!
In all the years that I have had the honour to serve you as Prime Minister, the issues on which I am about to address you, have been among the most challenging and difficult. This is so for three reasons. Firstly, they call for extremely tough, courageous but necessary decisions. Secondly, the matters in question have tarnished the reputation of our country and brought considerable dishonor to our Police Force both at home and abroad. Thirdly, the issues touch a raw nerve, our battle against crime, violence and lawlessness in our midst. It is therefore, ironic that I am addressing you on this subject at this juncture, when, for the first time in more than a decade, we have not had a homicide in January or February.
All of this will be better understood if I place the issues in their proper context. In so doing, I will have to repeat some information which was the subject of a previous address to you on August 30, 2014. This is necessary not simply to remind you of the facts of the matter but equally to help you to better appreciate the complexity of the problem that faces us.
First, let me remind you of the background which brought us to this point.
During the period between 2008 and 2010, Saint Lucia experienced an unprecedented wave of homicides and violent crimes, particularly in the northern half of the island. Our citizens were deeply disturbed by these horrific crimes and the seeming helplessness of our law enforcement agencies to bring them under control.
On May 30th, 2010, in an address to the nation, former Prime Minister Stephenson King launched what became known as “Operation Restore Confidence”, ostensibly to restore confidence in the Police Force and to provide a safer environment for the citizens of Saint Lucia. The former Prime Minister warned criminals that “There will be no refuge, no stone will be left unturned and there will be no hiding place for anyone.”
The former Prime Minister announced the formation of a Special Task Force of Police Officers and a change in the command structure of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force. The Commissioner of Police, Mr. Ausbert Regis was transferred, albeit unlawfully, and replaced by Assistant Commissioner of Police for Crime, Mr. Vernon Francois, initially in an acting capacity. Mr. Francois was subsequently confirmed in his position by my administration. Several other appointments were made but for the purposes of this address it is not necessary to mention them here.
The Task Force quickly became fully operational. It was placed under the direct command of the Deputy Commissioner of Police in charge of Operations, Mr. Moses Charles.
When these decisions were taken, ministerial responsibility for the Police was assigned to the former Minister of Home Affairs, Senator Guy Myers who briefed the public on the changes effected by his Government.
Between 2010 and 2011, twelve persons met their deaths following encounters with officers of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force. The largest number of the civilian casualties occurred in the Castries Basin, allegedly during the execution of duly authorized search warrants.
These deaths attracted the attention of the United States of America, among others. In their Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Saint Lucia for 2011, the US State Department reported, among other things, that “the most serious human rights problems included reports of unlawful police killings” [Page 1]. The same Report added that there were “12 potentially unlawful fatal police shootings during the year.”[Page 1]
APPLICATION OF LEAHY LAW
Consequent on the State Department’s Report, the United States Government proceeded to apply to Saint Lucia what has come to be widely known as the “Leahy Law.” There are three key provisions of this law, appearing in different Acts, all of which are of concern to us.
The first states that “ No assistance shall be furnished … 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.”[Section 620M of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended].
The second goes on to say, “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used to support any training program involving a unit of the security forces of a foreign country if the Secretary of Defense has received credible information from the Department of State that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights, unless all necessary corrective steps have been taken.”[DOD Appropriations Act for FY 2012(Div. A, P.L.112-74), Sec.8058.]
The third provision states that where 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.” [Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended, section 620M.]
Upon application of these foregoing provisions, the United States ceased all financial and technical assistance to our Coast Guard. This meant that the Government of Saint Lucia was now solely responsible for the maintenance of its Coast Guard Fleet. Other sanctions soon followed. The Government of Saint Lucia could not purchase ammunition from the United States for its American made weapons. Members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force could no longer participate in any training programme sponsored or financed by the United States. Our Police Officers were also denied participation in training activities in the Regional Security System (RSS), our own regional organization, once the training programme was sponsored or financed by the United States.
There were still more consequences. The visa of the former Deputy Commissioner of Police, Moses Charles was revoked. It is to be recalled that he was in charge of Operations when the alleged “extra judicial killings” took place. Further, though the visa of the Commissioner of Police, Vernon Francois, was not revoked he was nonetheless denied entry to the United States even to attend security meetings with officials of the United States.
The stark reality we confront is that the United States will only lift those sanctions if in their judgment “all necessary corrective steps have been taken.” The fact remains that for a tainted unit or member of such a unit to become eligible for training again, the Secretary of State must determine and report to the United States Congress that the Government of the affected country, in this case Saint Lucia, is taking effective steps to bring the responsible members of the security forces unit to justice.
In effect, if the sanctions are to be removed, we must show proof that we are taking corrective steps to deal with the situation.
Faced with these very serious national security issues and the urgent need to confront a problem that was compromising the integrity of our country, I announced on August 30, 2014, that the Government had secured, through the CARICOM Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS), the services of a team of investigators from the Jamaican Constabulary Force to investigate all instances of alleged “extra judicial killings” by members of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.
The team comprised eight investigators. Included among them were a ballistic expert, a legal advisor, a data entry specialist, a cyber-crime analyst, and detective investigators.
Since the receipt of the report, the Cabinet of Ministers has been studying its implications and recommendations. A copy of the report has also been shared with the United States Government.
There are those who glibly suggested that the government simply make the report a public document. Others have pronounced that we lacked the courage to implement, in total, the findings of the report. I reiterate that neither this Prime Minister nor the Government that I have the honour to lead will shirk its responsibilities in ensuring that our country abides by the rule of law.
MAIN FINDINGS OF INVESTIGATORS
I will state some of these findings tonight to bring home to you the extreme gravity of this matter. I cannot and will not discuss or review the evidential basis of the conclusions of the investigators. The matter of pursuing criminal charges is the preserve of the Director of Public Prosecutions and it is she who will pronounce on the same once her actions are consistent with our Constitution.
Our Constitution enshrines three separate arms of the state, the Executive, 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.
That said, 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. These findings relate not only to those officers who were involved in the operations but additionally, members of the High Command of the Police Force who may have been involved in “covering up” these matters.
The report confirms that “the blacklist or death lists” referenced by the media, human rights organizations, victim’s families and citizens alike did exist.
More alarmingly, the investigators report that “all the shootings reviewed were ‘Fake Encounters’ staged by the Police to legitimize their actions.”
Further, that the weapons supposedly found on 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.”
The investigators also advised that “a number of shootings were done by police officers and are listed on the murder statistic as being done by unknown assailants;”
Revealingly, the report suggests that “the crime problem in Saint Lucia is facilitated by corrupt politicians/government officials, business persons and police officers.”
Of serious concern too, is the fact that the investigators also reported that in the course of the investigation, some senior officers did not co-operate with them. They reported that the main server of the computers used by some members of the High Command of the Police Force was deliberately tampered with. In two instances, the operating systems of the computers were altered to place the supposed contents beyond “the timeline of [the] investigation” or probe.
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 also concluded that what operated during the period under review “was an environment of impunity and permissiveness designed to achieve the desired results. Willful blindness existed in respect of the Commissioner of Police and particular members of his leadership and management team.”
The investigators have recommended that “All police officers involved in the unlawful killings of citizens in respect of the files reviewed must be prosecuted.”
In all, the investigators made some thirty one recommendations many of which touch on the management and administration of the Police Force.
NO JUDGMENT OF INNOCENCE OR GUILT
I have already said and I repeat it here that it is not for me personally, or the Government collectively, or any Minister individually to make any judgment about the innocence or guilt of anyone who may be implicated by the findings of this report.
The question whether anyone is to be prosecuted is solely for the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine after evaluating and assessing the probative value of the evidence placed before her. Likewise, it is for the courts to pronounce on the innocence or guilt of any person who may be charged. The most that the Executive Arm of the Government can do is to provide the resources to the Director of Public Prosecutions to carry out the duties and the responsibilities assigned to her by our Constitution. A copy of the report has now been made available to her.
For the above reasons, save for some administrative adjustments that have now become necessary in the High Command of the Police Force, I am not here to nor will I order that police offices be charged or dismissed or offered packages to retire from the Police Force.
THE WAY FORWARD
The most fundamental question that faces us at this juncture is perhaps the most simple and obvious one: where do we go from here?
There can be no question that our relationship with the United States is vital both to our security and to the security of the United States. We cannot allow a situation where the chief custodian of our national security and other senior police officers in the High Command of the Police Force cannot travel to the United States for discussions on our shared security interests. Equally, it cannot be in the interest of our Police Force and I daresay, our country itself, that the skills of our officers cannot be improved because they are denied access to training once American sponsorship or funds are involved. More fundamentally, we cannot continue in a situation where we are viewed as a pariah State by our partners in the fight against crime and lawlessness.
There is perhaps no subject of co-operation between states that require “trust” more than co-operation in security matters.
Clearly therefore, we need to address the issues that arise from the application of the Leahy Law and I do so now.
Firstly, the Government has decided that the training of police recruits will henceforth include a module in Human Rights Law. All current police officers will be required, in rotation, to attend training to sensitize them to the Human Rights provisions of our Constitution.
Secondly, in order to strengthen the pool of Gazetted Officers, the Government, in consultation with the Police Force and our partners, will organize and conduct an accelerated training programme for potential promotion to the ranks of Gazetted Officers. Admission to this programme will be done on a competitive basis.
Additionally, we will augment the institutional capacity of the Police Force by increasing the Assistant Commissioner positions by one, increasing the number of funded sergeant positions by five and the number of funded corporal positions by ten.
Thirdly, we will make provision in this year’s Estimates of Expenditure for the appointment of Special Prosecutors to assist in the prosecution of any cases should the Director of Prosecutions so decide to prosecute.
Fourthly, the Cabinet will appoint a joint committee under my chairmanship, to oversee the implementation of the report of the investigators. The Committee will include representatives of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force and civilians.
Finally, the substantive Commissioner of Police, Mr. Vernon Francois, who is currently on leave will continue on leave until his current period of leave expires. Mr. Errol Alexander will continue to act as Commissioner during this period.
I wish to make it clear however, that there will be personnel adjustments within the Police Force as we seek to effectively manage this transition and ensure optimal functioning of the Police Force. It is vital that this transition is orderly, peaceful and in accordance with our laws and practices.
DISCLOSURE OF REPORT
Earlier, I made it clear that it is neither the place nor the occasion for this Government to pronounce the innocence or the guilt of anyone.
Accordingly, after consideration of the contents of the report, the Cabinet of Ministers has decided that it is not in the public interest to make this report public at this time. Already, there has been some unwarranted and outrageous speculation and commentary on the contents of the report.
Disclosure of the report would compromise continued investigations, place the lives of potential witnesses at risk and prejudice unfairly those who could face prosecution. The report relies on information provided by persons who spoke on condition of anonymity and we must, at all costs, protect the identity of the witnesses who spoke to the investigators. Though these witnesses are not identified in the report, the evidence contained therein could give clues of their identity. Further, disclosure would mean that those who may have done wrong will have advanced warning of who said what to whom about what, when, why, and where. It is best, therefore, that disclosure awaits the filing of charges, if any, and the ensuing legal processes.
HEALING THE WOUNDS
The wounds arising out of this investigation will be deep. For nearly five years our police officers have been the subject of intense scrutiny, locally, regionally and internationally. Our police officers are human beings and they will feel deeply hurt and distressed by the findings of this investigation. They would wish for this to come to an end at the earliest. So, too, will the relatives of the victims want closure and if the results warrant this, justice for their loved ones. The investigators have advised and we concur that,
“There is a strong need for victims to speak about their experiences. A credible national process in the form of transformative justice is required. Justice for victims, accountability and punishment of the perpetrators are essential elements of such a process.”
In all of this, we must remember that the vast majority of the men and women in our Police Force are decent, dedicated and committed Police Officers. Now more than ever, we need to rally around them as we all manage the outcome of this investigation.
THE RULE OF LAW PREVAILS
Those who believe that they can take advantage of this situation will be disappointed. I wish to assure all of our citizens that our Police Force will implement measures to ensure that the rule of law prevails and is respected. The criminal elements should not feel encouraged or emboldened by this report or any actions that may be taken as a result of the investigations. Our Government remains resolute in its pursuit of a safer and more secure country and we will employ all necessary lawful measures to ensure the security of our state and its citizens.
My fellow Saint Lucians, ladies and gentlemen!
As I stated at the commencement of this address, this was a distressing issue to confront. Its complexity was compounded by the fact that our government knows that there are many among us who welcomed the actions taken during “Operation Restore Confidence”, as they saw these actions as being largely responsible for the abatement in violent crime that followed. But we are a people and a government governed by laws and no matter how serious the problem may appear, we must never abandon our responsibility to do what is legally and morally correct. As a former Commissioner of Police once said, “we cannot commit a crime to solve a crime.”
My Government has done its part and in the words of Lord Mansfield, which words were once echoed by former Prime Minister, the Right Honourable Allan Louisy, “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”
Let us pray for God’s guidance and blessings as our nation faces our challenges, continues on its journey of peace, development and enlightenment.
Good night to one and all!
That’s how former UWP Minister Rufus Bousquet described the current incarnation of the United Workers Party. He also refused to answer a question regarding whether or not he had confidence in the leadership of Allen “Lionel” Chastanet. He said that the “party has changed dramatically” and “it’s just not the same party.”
If you supported the party of John Compton and the party of Stephenson King, you do not support the party of Allen “Lionel” Chastanet. He’s taken the party and made it something else – something that is focused on bringing even more personal power and wealth to the Chastanet family. The Chastanet’s have hijacked the UWP and turned it into a vehicle that advances one man’s power.
Our 36th independence celebrations in Vieux-Fort were spectacular! We were pleased to bring the celebrations to the south of our island for the first time. We believe that our independence isn’t just for one region of our country or another – it’s for our entire country and that’s why we were pleased to take the celebrations to the south.
We are a united people who know that if we work hard, and stick together, we will indeed make tomorrow better than today. Some complained that the celebrations were in Vieux-Fort, but, for years, those in the south had been left behind when the celebrations were elsewhere. Yet, they are part of our country too. We were pleased and honoured to take our independence celebrations to the south and let the island know that we are all united as one Saint Lucia committed to creating jobs and opportunity for all!
What is going on in Allen “Lionel” Chastanet’s UWP? First, you have Guy Joseph going out on his own and filing a frivolous lawsuit against the Constituency Boundaries Commission only to have Allen “Lionel” Chastanet distance himself from the said lawsuit. Then, you have Mr. Chastanet publicly attacking former UWP leader and Prime Minister Stephenson King, who has given decades of his life to the party. And, finally, you have the infamous racist sign at the rally whom Mr. Chastanet attempted to distance himself from and blame on an innocent supporter.
And, all of this is what we know about. What other disagreements that are happening behind the scenes? What other jockeying and infighting is happening? It’s clear that the party is not unified and it is certainly not ready to govern this country!
As the Prime Minister noted, Mr. Chastanet’s motivations are not to help his party or the people of Saint Lucia. Mr. Chastanet cares about one thing – empowering and enriching his family and his small clique of friends. The SLP is making sure and steady progress in difficult times. We’ve brought down the price at the pump. We’ve build dozens of new bridges. We’ve created thousands of jobs through programmes like NICE. We’re united, and, we have more work to do. Elections are coming, Saint Lucia. Be ready.
For the second time in one month, your government has lowered the price of gasoline, bringing relief to thousands of Saint Lucian businesses and families.
In January 2015, we decreased the price of a gallon of gasoline from $15.85 to $13.64. And now, in response to global declines in the price of fuel, we have lowered it again. And gasoline is not the only fuel subject to a price decrease: Saint Lucians will also be paying less for kerosene, diesel, and various sizes of LPG (cooking gas).
Your SLP government is committed to delivering a better quality of life for all Saint Lucians. In spite of the current economic conditions and in the face of increasing pressures to reduce expenditure, businesses, homes and families can now enjoy Saint Lucia's lowest gas prices in 14 years. Affordable energy is a critical component of the SLP vision for Saint Lucia. Your caring government will continue to work to ensure that all vital benefits are delivered to the people.