By his own official account, from his government’s “first few months in office” he had understood “the seriousness of the matter and its implications for the police force and indeed the former UWP political directorate.” The “matter” to which the prime minister referred, Operation Restore Confidence, “commenced with a dramatic speech to the nation by the former prime minister Stephenson King on May 30, 2010, [when] the former prime minister warned that there will be no refuge, no stone will be left unturned and there will be no hiding place for anyone.”
In the “aftermath of Operation Restore Confidence,” the prime minister said during his address to the nation on 20 August 2013, “some twelve persons met their deaths . . . These killings attracted the attention of the United States.” He reminded that the State Department had referred in its 2011 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Saint Lucia to “twelve potentially unlawful fatal shootings during the year, some reportedly committed by officers associated with an ad-hoc task force” that the former prime minister had set up “within the police department.”It had become clear, the prime minister said, that “the United States believes it has credible evidence” local police officers had “committed gross violations of human rights.”
What message did the prime minister seek to convey by his use of the phrase “the UWP political directorate?” According to my dictionaries, “In politics, directorates are government or quasi-government agencies or organizations.” Macmillan’s offers this definition: “The directors of a company; a part of a government that deals with a particular activity.”
So did the prime minister mean to say Operation Restore Confidence and its fall-out implicated the directors of the United Workers Party? Its leadership? Cabinet members? He sounded a tad more precise when he said: “At times like these, speculation will be rife but we must follow the rule of law as enshrined in our Constitution. There can be no other way. We now reap the harvest of rash decisions, particularly by policy makers anxious to gain quick resolutions.”
Was the prime minister saying the extra-judicial killings were consequences of rash policy decisions by the King government? Was he saying King’s Cabinet was responsible for the rash decisions that had landed the nation’s police with human rights problems?
“In all the years I have served you,” the prime minister said in an address delivered on 8 March 2015, he had never faced as difficult a challenge as now confronted him in consequence of certain convenient policies of the King government. Resolution called for “extremely tough, courageous but necessary decisions.”
He added: “The stark reality we confront is that the United States will only lift [imposed sanctions] if in their judgment all necessary corrective steps have been taken. The fact remains . . . that the Secretary of State must determine and report to the United States Congress that the government is taking effective steps” to bring those responsible for the extra-judicial killings to justice.
“In effect, if the sanctions are to be removed, we must show proof that we are taking corrective steps to deal with the situation,” the prime minister said.
He revealed that the Jamaican cops to whom he had assigned an investigation into the suspected judicial executions had cited in their report “willful blindness” on the part of a police commissioner and members of his leadership team. Moreover, the report had recommended “all police officers involved in the unlawful killings of citizens in respect of the files reviewed be prosecuted.”
Finally: “The report suggests the crime problem in Saint Lucia is facilitated by corrupt politicians/government officials, business persons and police officers.” Nevertheless, the prime minister emphasized that he would not “order that police officers be charged or dismissed or offered packages to retire from the police force.”
He would instead hand over the investigators’ report to the Director of Public Executions for study. He offered no date by which time the department might be ready to make a public announcement. Indeed, since the prime minister’s address there has been “not a word, not a word, not a word” on the all-important matter of the extra-judicial killings—not even from the opposition United Workers Party’s “political directorate” that the prime minister has suggested could primarily be responsible for the unlawful deaths of twelve citizens!
Two weeks ago the prime minister publicly acknowledged a gag order served members of his Cabinet. Meanwhile, there appears to be less public interest in the prosecution of suspect police officers than in the sudden silence of the opposition United Workers Party!