A-M u s i n g s

Musings are thoughts, the thoughtful kind. For the purpose of these articles, a-musings are thoughts that might amuse, entertain and even enlighten.

It must be true – it’s in the papers!

A team of independent investigators is alleging that St. Lucia’s police force maintained “death lists” of people deemed to be criminals and planted guns at the scenes of police shootings to legitimise their unlawful actions, the Caribbean country’s leader has announced. In a national address late on Sunday, the prime minister, Kenny Anthony, said a team of Jamaican investigators had delivered an “extremely damning” report looking at the deaths of 12 people fatally shot by police in 2010 and 2011, while another administration was in power. The investigators from the Jamaica Constabulary Force were invited by St Lucia’s government a year after the US withdrew all assistance to island police citing concerns about allegations of unlawful killings.

A-MUSINGS

Quoting from the report, which was not made public, Anthony said investigators found that all the shootings reviewed were “staged by the police” but reported publicly as homicides by unknown assailants. Guns were allegedly planted by officers, and members of the police high command may have been involved in covering up the truth about the long-rumoured extrajudicial shootings. “The report confirms that ‘the blacklist or death lists’ referenced by the media, human rights organisations, victims’ families and citizens alike did exist,” Anthony said. Cameron Laure, president of the Police Welfare Association in St Lucia, said he was receiving phone calls from “many police officers” about the details disclosed by the prime minister. “I don’t even know how to react at this point. I will have to meet with the commissioner of police as well as the other members first before making a full statement,” he said.

Alleged tampering with evidence did not just happen at scenes of police-related fatalities, Anthony said. During their investigation, the investigators disclosed that the server used by some police commanders was “deliberately tampered with.” The dozen killings occurred during a security initiative called Operation Restore Confidence as the tourism-dependent island grappled with a worrying rise in violent crime. At the time, former prime minister Stephenson King publicly warned criminals that “no stone will be left unturned and there will be no hiding place for anyone”. During the period under review, five of the dozen men fatally shot by police were killed in a single operation in the southern town of Vieux Fort.

In its most recent annual report on the island, the US State Department complained of the “limited progress” of investigations into the deadly police shootings. In 2012, local inquests concluded that six of the 12 shootings were justified. But the US imposed its sanctions the following year, indicating it did not have confidence in the outcomes of the inquests. Anthony said the investigators made 31 recommendations in their report, the main one being prosecutions for “all police officers involved in the unlawful killings of citizens” that they reviewed. The prime minister said the public prosecutor must now determine whether to pursue cases against the officers. Anthony said he would not order that suspected police officers behind the alleged unlawful killings “be charged or dismissed or offered packages to retire”. But he said the government would now ensure that police recruits received training in human rights and special prosecutors would be appointed to assist with any future prosecutions of officers, among other changes.”

I feel genuinely sorry for the PM. He is more and more a man of contradictions. My imagination tells me that Kenny might have reported the death lists to the Americans, while Tony now has to deal with the fallout. Kenny perhaps attempted to blacken the reputation of the UWP, now Tony is facing the wrath of America. Kenny decided to go public with his exclusive interpretation of the secret report, while Tony now has to fumble for answers to an irate, disillusioned, demoralized police force. Kenny, perhaps unwittingly, gave the British press a juicy tale of police corruption, now Tony has to deal with St. Lucia’s negative worldwide press. Kenny turned to Jamaica, not a country with an unsullied police reputation, to seek investigators, while Tony maintains that Lucians do not need outside help. Kenny declared that he would not order officers behind the alleged unlawful killings to “be charged”, while Tony simultaneously – and rather oddly – proclaimed that the “public prosecutor must now determine whether to pursue cases against the officers.”

If it were indeed in Kenny’s power to order that officers “be charged or dismissed or offered packages to retire”, which I doubt, why did Tony not act? And why was the DPP, just back from leave and about to go on pre-retirement leave find herself attacked, vilified and faced with a report she finds almost devoid of hard evidence? And how can Kenny expect so much from a DPP’s office that Tony does not support with more resources? I tell you, life’s a bugger sometimes. Even Janus would not know which way to turn.

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