On Thursday February 25 the United Workers Party held a press conference to address issues such as Saint Lucia’s international image and “lack of transparency and accountability on the part of the Kenny Anthony administration.” Party members urged the public to become more proactive, demanding accountability from leadership. At the head table sat UWP leader Allen Chastanet, chairman Guy Mayers, House Opposition leader Dr. Gale Rigobert, and Castries Southeast MP Guy Joseph. Mayers was first to address the press: “Today we are here to deal with the negative image of our country. An image that has been battered by what the Labour government has been doing to it, as well as what has not been done for it. The United Workers Party pledges now to do everything possible to rescue Saint Lucia’s reputation.” Mayers touched on several hot-button issues, among them Juffali, the government’s relationship with the EU, the US State Department, and IMPACS.
On the topic of IMPACS Mayers stated,“This is a serious matter that must be addressed, not only because we continue to lose assistance for our law enforcement and security agencies, but also because, as a nation, we have obligations to our people and to the community of nations with whom we have friendly relations.” He promised that “within the first 100 days of coming to office, we will introduce the terms of reference of a three-member independent tribunal to review what has transpired thus far and recommend a way forward.” Also discussed at the press conference was the government’s lack of transparency in regard to its resolution of the IMPACS affair. The United Workers Party asserts that there remain pertinent questions which the government must answer.
Chastanet affirmed that the idea that IMPACS had anything to do with the United Workers Party be debunked. “Under the watch of the United Workers Party,” he said, “there were allegations of extrajudicial killings.” He then clarified: “Four of those cases have actually gone through a coroner’s inquest and the policemen involved were cleared.”
According to his report, almost one year after elections, the present government decided to conduct an investigation of those killings, following the United States government’s decision to impose on Saint Lucia the provisions of the Leahy Law, depriving the country of millions of dollars and thousands of hours of assistance.
Chastanet lamented that rather than recognising the division between the executive branch of government and the judiciary, the current administration decided to conduct the investigation through the Prime Minister’s office. Stated Chastanet: “When the Jamaican police officers were hired, instead of working through the DPP’S office, where all criminal investigations take place, the Jamaican police were replacing the Saint Lucian Police, because it was felt that the Saint Lucian police were not in a position to investigate themselves. “If in fact that simple course of action had been taken, it means the DPP’S office would have been on board with the investigation from day one. Instead, the investigators produced a report. We now know the evidence has never come to Saint Lucia.
“Here are alleged crimes which took place in Saint Lucia yet the so-called evidence does not reside in Saint Lucia but rather in Jamaica. “The Prime minister gave his infamous speech in March revealing contents of a report he has never seen the evidence for. Therefore the same conclusion the DPP made – that the report is only hearsay and allegations – the same thing must be concluded when he received the report. “Yet still he went ahead and said on TV that there was a hit list, that there were police killings, that policemen planted evidence and that the senior management of the police force turned a willful blind eye; suggested that there were connections to politicians and to business people. Yet today, no evidence has been provided by this government that this is the case, because the report was sent to the DPP and she has said that she never received any of the evidence.”
Chastanet went on to ask why the Prime Minister would go out of his way to sabotage the IMPACS case if it is of national interest and deals with the most important element to the citizens of this country. He also posed questions relating to national security and human rights, enquiring why the case in question was not treated and dealt with seriously and “why the government and politicians did not stay arms length away from this investigation.” “The DPP’s office is in a shambles and why is there a vacuum of leadership there currently?” Chastanet queried. He highlighted the DPP’s sudden resignation, insinuating the government’s foreknowledge of her discontinuation in office.
Questions regarding government’s silence on the collapse of the judicial system, due to the lack of resources in the DPP’s office, were also brought to the fore, Chastanet claiming that the judicial system had been “hijacked and bypassed” by government. What Chastanet referred to the “inappropriate actions of the Prime Minister” – such as the premature trade license issued to Lambirds College – was also addressed. Lastly on the UWP agenda was the issue of the recent publication of a list of over 30,000 names of “unverified registered voters”. On this matter Rigobert voiced, “Mere months away from elections, with weeks left to verify the sincerity of the list, is that in-keeping with what we understand to be the best spirit of democracy? We respect that this exercise may be necessary but why was it not done sooner, and why weren’t we given more time to scrutinise that list to ensure that voters are not wrongfully disenfranchised and that their constitutional rights are not violated?”
Both Rigobert and Joseph spoke on this matter, questioning the validity of the list and the criteria used in its compilation, while simultaneously expressing concerns about Saint Lucians’ human rights and privileges being potentially comprised due to the possibility of them being illegible to vote because of factors such as incapacitation, long-term unverified absence from the country and illness forcing them to remain housebound.