Letters & Opinion

You Cannot Fight Fire with Fire

The Editor:

As a Saint Lucian national currently and temporarily abroad, I have noted the latest lengthy letter from Opposition Leader Allen Chastanet offering nine alternatives to the 25 initiatives announced by Prime Minister Philip J. Pierre last week.

It’s bad enough for Mr Chastanet to behave like this is a numbers competition, but unlike the thinking behind his entire letter, it is not. Instead, this is about fighting serious crime seriously — and not a race to see which party can claim to have fought crime better while in office or under which administration more people were killed.

Mr Chastanet’s fascination with an irrelevant numbers game that doesn’t take the effects of killings on the families of victims into consideration is also clear in the arguments he offers to back his ridiculous proposals.

For example, he is calling for a return to the actions behind the infamous Operation Restore Confidence (ORC) that resulted in the targeted deaths of many citizens, all of whom remain in mourning to this day, with no sense of Justice in their cases of respective grief.

The accused police officers involved in execution of the ORC have also since been subjected to similar uncertainty about their professional future, while the entire police force suffered the penalty of the USA and European Union (EU) member-nations acting in unison to impose international sanctions against Saint Lucia after the IMPACS report was released.

The US sanctions against Saint Lucia placed this country in a special category of the very few nations in Latin America and the Caribbean being punished by sanctions for having police forces accused of engaging in targeted extrajudicial killings and it all happened under a UWP administration that he was part of, in which a businessman was put in charge of national security and a policeman was put in charge of the police, but to no avail.

The tone of his letter strongly suggests that Mr Chastanet believes the only way to fight crime is through criminal means, but if he ever learned anything in life, he’s never understood that you can’t fight fire with fire, or with words.

He argues that the IMPACS sanctions don’t really matter because, in his expressed view, since Saint Lucians believed it was successful, it should therefore be repeated. He therefore clearly believes, as Prime Minister Pierre has so often said, in dazzling people with “Smoke and Mirrors” to distract them from seeing the failures of the policies he and his party implemented in office, supposedly to fight crime.

His government introduced and eliminated a COVID Police Unit it had established to police the protocols and the protocols were policed in a partisan way, ahead of and during the last elections campaign. Further, the COVID numbers only rose up and up under Mr Chastanet’s watch, while his administration pussyfooted with the announcement of the deadly Delta variant to the public for fear it would have been rightly blamed for doing away with Social Distancing to allow for Carnival-type political revelry in the two weeks leading to the July 26, 2021 General Elections. Now he wants the present government to implement his failed policies.

This Government of Saint Lucia is undoubtedly more focused on applying real and practical solutions people can see, feel and understand, as in the 25 initiatives announced by the Prime Minister, and should not accept or follow the Opposition Leader’s advice to use criminal approaches to fighting crime.

The Commissioner of Police has promised to make it impossible for today’s criminals to persist, while the Attorney General’s Department has long started the process of reviewing Saint Lucia’s implementation-levels regarding international agreements to fight Crime and Corruption, including through a major workshop last month that brought all stakeholders together. The Government also continues to take the fight to crime, but not in ways that violate our laws and international charters and place my sweet Saint Lucia in the position it was after the IMPACS Report under the UWP administration.

Mr Chastanet should first consider acknowledging the way in which the police force suffered, and its professional leadership lost morale under his political leadership and those around him who saw the fight against crime as one of erasing the successes of the previous SLP-led administrations. A previous SLP administration build all the new police and fire stations and the new prison; and the SLP, in office, had also initiated a successful illegal gun amnesty programme that was taking illegal firearms off the streets, which was discontinued once the UWP took office.

This administration should continue to pursue its working and workable strategies and while it naturally shares the grief of every life taken and will act and react accordingly, it is doing so appropriately and legally, without engaging in criminality to fight crime. Why? Because lawless approaches to the police force’s mission To Serve and Protect will only make things worse than the legacy of the ORC that Mr Chastanet inherited as Prime Minister and did nothing about.

As Rick Wayne used to say, Mr Chastanet should stop throwing his water in our eyes and calling it rain!

Samuel Leopold Philip

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