Questions are swirling regarding the timing of an announcement by the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Wednesday, regarding the IMPACS matter in which police officers killed 12 citizens in 2010/2011.
The killings drew condemnation from the European Union and the United States of America with the latter imposing restrictions on the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force in 2013, due to a piece of legislation it has called the Leahy Law.
The United States has charged Saint Lucia, as a result of the killings, with participating in a serious abuse of human rights and calls for the police officers involved to answer to a court of law for their actions.
This has yet to occur to the satisfaction of the Americans, however last month the United States softened its position by announcing a resumption of cooperation and assistance to selected units of the police force, namely the Marine Unit and the Immigration Department.
With police officers involved in the 2010/2011 killings still unsure of their future within the police force, despite the Americans acceptance of certain units within the force, up came DPP Greene with a statement that appeared to give solace to police officers involved in five of the shooting cases. Whether the statement by Greene is enough to get the Americans to lift its sanctions against the police force and the accused officers is another matter, one in which Greene did not expound on.
“In relation to the shooting deaths of JASON WARRICAN, KIMRON SIMON, ASHLEY BERNARD, BERTRAM CHARLES and ELISHIOUS LOUIS I have advised the
Commissioner of Police that I do not find that there is sufficient evidence at this stage for any charges to be preferred against the officers concerned in these shootings,” Greene said.
He added, “As it relates to the deaths of REGINALD JEAN, DWIGHT HENRY, KEVIN FERDINAND, ROSARIUS MARQUIS, JOHN BAPTISTE MACFARLANE, MITCHELL CADETTE and ALLEN LOUISY I have advised the Commissioner of Police that I find that there are further lines of enquiry to be explored, therefore the investigations in these matters are active and I intend to provide a follow up update on these matters in due course.
This is the extent of my update…”
Greene’ statement on the matter has left several persons questioning its timing, knowing that police officers would go to the polls two days later to vote in Monday’s general elections.
The Coordinator of the National Centre for Legal Aid and Human Rights, Mary Francis said she was surprised at the timing of Greene’s announcement, just days before general elections.
“It doesn’t look too good for the DPP because he had sufficient time to come out and make a statement. I mean I have called upon him – he has been called upon by the police to make a statement. Why now?” Francis asked.
Leader of the Opposition Philip J Pierre also questioned the DPP’s findings noting that this was a desperate attempt to secure the votes of police officers.
“We sympathise with the police officers and their families, who over the past few years have been denied promotion, and note that this announcement is being made five days before the General Election and two days before the police officers themselves cast their ballots,” he said on Wednesday.
Greene said that the conduct of the investigations into the killings are within the remit of the Commissioner of Police and the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force. The function of the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is to review the investigations submitted by law enforcement.