Monday 28 September, 2020

PWA set for IMPACS battle in 2019

A showdown is on the horizon between police officers involved in the shooting deaths of 12 individuals during a 2010 – 2011 police led initiative called Operation Restore Confidence and the Government of Saint Lucia. And that showdown seems set to take place next year in a court of law.

On the side of the police officers is the Police Welfare Association (PWA) whose president Travis Chiquot yesterday emphasized the lengths in which his organization will go to defend them.

“Come January 2019 we (PWA) intend, every week, to issue a statement on IMPACS (Implementation Agency for Crime and Security),” Chiquot said.

IMPACS is a unit within CARICOM which the Government of Saint Lucia called on four years ago to investigate the police killings. The unit, after its investigations put together a report that caused the Americans to question Saint Lucia’s human rights agenda and which led to them slapping sanctions on the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force.

The Government of Saint Lucia has no one on its side as the showdown looms, having exhausted almost all avenues it seems, to avoid laying charges against the police officers.

The Americans withdrawal of aid to the police has had a significant negative impact on the force. They have made it clear to the Saint Lucian government that prosecution of the accused police officers is the only way by which they will resume their assistance. And government, it seems, sees no way out other than to haul the officers before a court of law.

National Security and Home Affairs Minister Hermangild Francis concurs that prosecution of the police officers is the only thing that would appease the Americans and get Saint Lucia back in their good graces. He is on record saying government will try to get the police officers before a court of law as expeditiously as possible.

But the PWA will be fighting the government on that every step of the way and will go as far as possible in defending the police officers.

Chiquot yesterday said that the PWA already has lawyers lined up to defend the police officers adding that the PWA is not against prosecution of police officers.

“The PWA supports prosecution based on evidence. The PWA will support the prosecution of any police officer once we believe there is sufficient evidence before the court. We believe that no court in Saint Lucia should be used for show business and if we are going to prosecute people based on pleasing anybody, we ought never to use the courts …” Chiquot said.

The PWA president said his organization has the support of lawyers from Trinidad & Tobago who have pledged to assist in defending the police officers. 

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