Saint Lucia has been downgraded from a human’s rights perspective. So reported the island’s prime minister, Mr. Allen Chastanet, at press conference on Monday. He said that during their recent 8-day trip overseas he and agriculture minister Ezechiel Joseph had met with personnel from the justice department in London to discuss much needed assistance for the island’s justice system.
Chastanet indicated his trip overseas were not state visits, as such. He and his agricultural minister had seized the opportunity while in the UK to lobby for continued financial support from the DDP’s office in London. Resources are also being sought for a new courthouse, judges, magistrates and other personnel, perchance to restore the broken local justice system.
The government’s most pressing problem is the local DPP’s office, which has been without a director since the formal departure of Victoria Charles-Clarke in January 2016. However the office of the Director of Public Prosecution has been essentially vacant since December 2015 when the then DPP went on pre-retirement leave, under a deluge bad blood from her relationship with the government.
At the time of Charles-Clarke’s departure the former national security minister Victor LaCorbiniere implied her departure would further complicate matters relating to the progress of the IMPACS report. Although there have been official denials, the popular word is that there is no great rush of candidates seeking to replace Charles-Clarke while IMPACS remains unresolved.
Unattractive compensation seems to be the deterrent. PM Chastanet informed the media that the DDP’s “salary has since been lifted to grade 21, hopefully to get a DPP at least on a contractual basis.” This move is currently under especially careful consideration since the position of DPP is a constitutional one and may involve legal ramifications. The prime minister emphasized that the government is seeking legal advice on the matter. The government may well have to consider option of placing the post even higher than grade 21. The estimated cost to tax payers was not mentioned. St.Kitts recently appointed a new DPP after a long-winded process, with a salary package of over EC$25,000 monthly.