Government to appeal Regis case

Is Ausbert Regis now well enough return to work?

Ausbert Regis did not report for work at police headquarters yesterday. Following a judgment that he be reinstated as Police Commissioner of the Royal St Lucia Police Force, the STAR has been informed that all is not well at the institution.
Yesterday morning we spoke with a number of police officers regarding the latest news surrounding the post of Police Commissioner of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force. They answered cautiously, with one saying this: “We really have no say in who our police commissioner will be. It is a decision that is taken depending on rank and by the government but we have made a lot of progress in the last year. It’s a shame.”
Another officer told the STAR: “Everyone is uneasy, just talking about it and trying to figure out what is going to happen.”
The news broke on Monday of the judgment that was handed down in open court by Justice Roslyn Wilkinson.  Speaking with RCI news on Monday lawyer for Regis, Dominican Anthony Astaphan said: “My understanding is that the honourable judge ruled in favour of Mr Regis substantially and primarily on the ground of the
right to be heard, that it was unfair to transfer him or remove him from his office without a hearing.”                 Astaphan said he had not read the judgment but added: “The effect of the judgment is that as of today Mr Regis is and continues to be the commissioner of the police of the Royal St Lucia Police Force.”
Ausbert Regis was in May 2010 notified by letter of his transfer from the post of commissioner to a position in the Prime Minister’s Office as Director of Special Initiatives. He filed the law suit in June of that same year and the case was heard in January 2011. Regis had reportedly never physically gone to the post he was transferred to and was on sick leave for undisclosed reasons.
Along with Astaphan, Regis was represented by local lawyer Peter Foster and Rene St Rose while the state was represented by Dominican lawyer Reginald Armour. During the trial Regis was the only witness for the claimant and recalled the events leading up to his transfer.
So what happens now?
In a press release sent out Tuesday the government press secretary stated: “The Government of Saint Lucia has learnt of a judgment issued in the courts earlier today in the matter of Ausbert Regis vs the Crown. Government has not received a copy of the actual judgment which may have been given earlier today.   Once that judgment is received it will be reviewed by Government’s legal Officers. Government is nonetheless stating its intention to launch an appeal to the judgment, which it understands has been given in favour of Mr Regis.”
As he left court on Monday Ausbert Regis was in tears and declined to comment on the judgment to HTS news. Last year just before he was transferred there was wide outcry in Saint Lucia for the police to put a handle on crime and for the government to do something. There were several calls for the then police commissioner to step down. Coincidentally the day he was required to return to his new post was the day the judgment was delivered.
This cannot be good news for the police who have had several shifts in terms of police commissioners in the last four years. Following Regis’ transfer Acting Police Commissioner Vernon Francois was at the helm. Francois has been credited for implementing Operation Restore Confidence that sought to bring calm to the country following a string of violent acts.
For his part Francois was quoted by HTS news as saying that he will continue to do his job until directed otherwise.
Said Francois: “There is a job to be done and if a determination is made that somebody else is to step in to become commissioner of police I suppose we just have to take it up from there. There is a lot of work to be done.”
The judgment comes at a time when the country is preparing to head into a general election and police officers have their hands full, to say the least. All police officers have been called back from leave to serve the country during this time.
And it seems the timing of the judgment handed down sparked a response from the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Stephenson King who reportedly described it as “suspect.”
The local bar association has now joined the discussion suggesting that the Prime Minister comments were  “unfortunate and uncalled for and deserving of condemnation and retraction.”
In a statement sent to the STAR yesterday the Bar Association stated: “Judicial officers of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court over the more than 40 years of the Courts life have enjoyed a reputation that is unblemished and envied. No criticism of our judges impliedly challenging their impartiality should ever be made without strong and substantial evidence. There is none in this case
to which the Prime Minister can point. Unfortunately, the Honourable Judge is bound by the protocols
of her office to remain silent and let only her reputation and the reputation of the court of which she is a part speak for itself. The St Lucia Bar Association, on the other hand, is constrained by no such protocol of silence and loudly declares that it stands firmly behind the learned Judge and the judicial system of Saint Lucia. The Association expresses the hope that notwithstanding the atmosphere of elections, dispassionate and sober judgment will visit those of our leaders that might otherwise be tempted to destroy that which they cannot control or
It is anyone’s guess whether Ausbert Regis will return to work now or anytime soon. There’s also that investigation the Kenny Anthony administration had initiated of the Regis that former Security Minister Keith Mondesir had spilled the beans about.
Talk-show host Rick Wayne had in May this year written about the possible scenario of Regis’ return. Wayne had asked the following questions: “What if Regis should win his suit and decide to resume his job as commissioner of police with the present government still in office? Would Francois then accept his consequent automatic demotion? What about the other officers promoted along with Francois in the absence of Regis?
On the other hand, considering his own administration’s history with Ausbert Regis, how will a reelected Kenny Anthony explain the commissioner’s return, bearing in mind the no longer secret findings of the earlier cited investigation that had effectively denied Regis his right —in the name of natural justice—to refute the allegations against him? And if Regis should retire following a successful court appearance, what then will be the relationship between an incumbent Kenny Anthony and the current earlier criticized hierarchy of the force?”
Said Wayne: “Regardless of the court’s decision, Saint Lucia yet again stands to lose both on the swings and on the roundabout!”

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