THE government is facilitating the departure from St Lucia of students of the Lambirds Academy who have been cleared to leave by the Director of Public Prosecutions, a statement from the office of the Prime Minister indicated yesterday.
The statement came in response to concerns expressed by Leader of the Opposition Dr. Gail Rigobert about the plight of some 60 students from Nepal and the Philippines who were stranded on the island after the Academy in Gros Islet where they were studying, was closed down more than a month ago and four persons connected with it charged with human trafficking and money laundering.
Rigobert last week expressed concern that the students were being sent back to their countries even while police investigations into the matter remained active.
The statement from the Office of the Prime Minister explained that when a criminal investigation is underway, it was a matter for the police and the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
It added: “The Government cannot behave in any manner that would compromise the actions of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Police. It is not for the government to make decisions about how the interests of the students will be represented in a court of law in a criminal matter. Likewise, it is for the Director of Public Prosecutions to determine whether all of the students can return to their homeland or some can return while others remain to testify.
“Where the Government has a responsibility is to assist those who have been cleared by the DPP to return to their homelands.”
The statement quoted the Prime Minister Kenny Anthony as saying that “unquestionably”, there were “some very troubling aspects” about the whole matter, adding that the Cabinet of Ministers had already taken a decision to conduct an independent inquiry to determine, among other things, how the investors were granted approval to operate in St Lucia, how the students arrived here and what were the arrangements made for their studies and welfare.
“Such an inquiry cannot, however, compromise ongoing investigations by the police or the filing of charges by the Director of Public Prosecutions”, the statement said.
It said from the onset, the welfare of those affected had been a priority for the government which was in contact with the UN International Organization for Migration “to secure the welfare of the affected individuals and to bring decisive closure to this matter”.