Did Our PM Corrupt The Process?

NO subject has occupied the attentions of our people with such intensity for a very long time as has the recent address to the nation by the Prime Minister Street corners, rum shops, and, above all the airwaves have reverberated with passionate argument, dissecting what was said and what was left unsaid. There is no surprise in this. The Prime Minister was discussing an issue that touched and concerned the security of the State and the very safety of our citizenry.

It is no secret that our Prime Minister is not merely a lawyer, but a lawyer who has made for himself a well-earned reputation as a leading academic in the field of constitutional law. The Prime Minister will be very familiar with the provisions of the Constitution which are referred to as the protection of the fundamental freedoms. One such provision is section 8 of the Constitution, headed “PROVISIONS TO SECURE PROTECTION OF THE LAW” which says, among other things, “Every person who is charged with a criminal offence shall be presumed to be innocent until he or she is proved or has pleaded guilty”. The section goes on to say that a person charged with an offence “shall be informed as soon as reasonably practicable… of the nature of the offence charged.”

In his address the Prime Minister commenced by stating that the IMPACS Report, which was the subject of the address, presented him with a most challenging and difficult task. This was so, he said because the conclusions of the report “call for extremely tough, courageous but necessary decisions”. He continued that the matters in question had tarnished the reputation of our country and brought considerable dishonour to our police force. In concluding that decisions have to be made and that dishonour has been brought to the police force, the Prime Minister has accepted the conclusions of the report. He has found the Police Force guilty of dishonourable conduct

Further on in his address, the Prime Minister said that he would share some of the findings of the report, which he described as extremely damning. He stated that the report “confirms” (his word) that the death list referenced by the media and human rights organizations did exist. “More alarmingly, that ‘all the shootings reviewed were fake encounters staged by the police to legitimize their actions’” He continued in his address as follows “further, that the weapons supposedly found on the scene of the alleged ‘extra judicial killings’ were from sources other than the victims.

It is our view that by addressing the Nation in the manner that he did, the Prime Minister, whether he intended to or not, gave the impression that he had adopted the conclusions of the report. It is entirely true that in the course of the address the Prime Minister said that it was not for him personally, nor the government collectively to make any judgment on the innocence or guilt of any person implicated by the findings of the report. The Prime Minister did say that the report would be submitted to the Director of Public Prosecution for her independent determination of whether to bring any prosecutions or not, but it seems to us that having stated what he did earlier that that latter statement smacks of Pontius Pilate washing his hands.

In truth, the Prime Minister had only two viable options in how he treated with the report. He could simply have said that the report had been received and that based on its contents, it had been submitted to the DPP for her independent judgment and attention within the confines of her jurisdiction, or, the Prime Minister could have released the whole report with suitable redactions of names. He chose neither. Rather, he chose to selectively disclose certain conclusions of the IMPACS investigations making them sound as accepted fact by his government.

We sincerely hope that the Prime Minister has not, by his address fatally corrupted the process which he has said he has asked the Director of Public Prosecutions to commence and carry through to its conclusion.

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