The Director of Public Prosecutions Mrs Victoria Charles-Clarke is expressing concern over the high number of criminal cases in which persons are indicating that they do not wish to proceed with the prosecution.
Particular concern is expressed in cases of sexual abuse involving minors in which the parents or guardians of the victims have been calling at the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions indicating that they no longer wish to continue with the prosecution of these cases. Mrs Victoria Charles-Clarke wishes to inform the public that her office will not be entertaining requests for discontinuance of cases by persons who have no authority or legitimate reason for doing so.
The Director of Public Prosecutions wishes to indicate that all criminal charges brought by the police are crimes against the State. Therefore when a complaint is made and the police, who are the law enforcement agencies responsible for investigating reports of crime commence an investigation, and lay a charge, only the Director of Public Prosecutions or her delegate is authorized under the law to discontinue or withdraw the prosecution of that offence. Criminal cases cannot be discontinued for personal reasons or at the whim and fancy of individuals who make complaints to the police.
It is an offence under Section 371 of the Criminal Code of Saint Lucia 2004 for any person to enter into any agreement to forbear to prosecute or give evidence against another person on a criminal charge in consideration for money or any other valuable thing or advantage to him or another person or on account of compassion or fear of bodily injury. This constitutes the offence of compounding crime and carries a penalty of 10 years imprisonment for Indictable cases and two (2) years imprisonment for Summary offences.
Section 373 of the Criminal Code 2004 stipulates a penalty of 15 years imprisonment for persons who compound any crime involving a child who has been abused in any way.
There are limited special circumstances under which the Director of Public Prosecutions will discontinue the prosecution of a criminal case especially if the victim is a minor. These include factors such as the physical, mental or psychological health of the victim, which is likely to affect his/her ability to give evidence.
The lack of interest by the parent or guardian of the victim in proceeding with the case is not a reason for discontinuing a criminal prosecution. The State has a responsibility to protect vulnerable persons which include children or minors, and adults who make representations to discontinue cases involving minors under their care will be investigated to determine the real reasons for these requests. If it is discovered that they have entered into any agreement or accepted money or any other valuable to forbear the prosecution of a case, then they will be prosecuted under Section 371, 372 or 373 of the Criminal Code of Saint Lucia 2004.
—-Crown Prosecution Service, Ministry of Legal Affairs