THE announcement by National Security Minister Hermangild Francis that the United States wants the police officers involved in the alleged 12 extra-judicial killings that took place in 2010 and 2011 prosecuted is not surprising — not at all.
The United States has been calling for the police officers engaged in the killings to be hauled before a court of law from the get go.
There has been no duplicity on the part of the United States regarding what they wanted. Representatives of the US government have repeatedly made it clear that their country was willing to work with Saint Lucia to end the impositions it has on the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, but all Saint Lucia had to do for this to happen was to bring the officers involved in the killings to a court of law to answer charges.
To prove its point, the United States, in the person of its Ambassador for the Eastern Caribbean and Barbados Linda Taglialatela, last year handed office equipment worth EC$100,000 to the Crown Prosecution Service Unit and took the opportunity to say that her country could offer a lot more assistance to Saint Lucia if the police officers were to be held accountable in a court of law.
For Minister Francis to make such an announcement now gave the impression that his government was trying to get the Americans to deal with the matter differently, other than through a court of law. It also sounded like the Minister — and by extension the government — were only half listening to the Americans.
I repeat: The Americans have always been steadfast in calling for the prosecution of the police officers involved in the alleged extrajudicial killings.
The question weighing on my mind is this: Now that Minister Francis knows that the Americans want the police officers prosecuted — and nothing else — will his government now also move, with equal speed, to close this chapter in the nation’s history by acceding to the Americans request?
To give Francis credit, he did say that “We (government) are going to try and see how we can do that as expeditiously as possible.”
Such words from Francis are not new to us — after all, the ruling United Workers Party (UWP), even when it was in opposition, promised swift action on that matter on assuming office. Two-and-a-half years later, thgough, it looks like a case of returning to the drawing board.
What can the government tell the police force, especially those members involved in the killings, now that the Americans want the matter settled their way?
Police officers involved must now realize that the government cannot protect them in that matter as much as they thought they could.
The buck stops with this government, as uncomfortable as this may be to them, seeing that while in opposition, Prime Minister Allen Chastanet declared the matter was not a UWP matter but rather a Saint Lucia Labour Party matter.
Claiming or debunking ownership of the matter is now irrelevant. Dealing with it now is of paramount importance.
This matter, along with several other naughty ones inherited by this government, should not be made a political football today as it has been in the past.
It would augur well for the country if this government deals with the matter as swiftly as possible.
After all, they asked for the job to govern. Therefore, they must do the job — and do it efficiently and competently, displaying good judgment in the process.