Yesterday, the 21st of July, 2021. The Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr. Daarsrean Greene, convened a press conference to make a public statement updating the nation on the status of what is commonly known as the IMPACS Report.
First, I must note, the current DPP is the highest-paid in our history, and according to veteran journalist Rick Wayne, he is the highest-paid DPP in our region. When he was first appointed early in the incumbents’ administration, his record-setting compensation was justified by the assurance that he would be clearing up a significant portion of the nation’s backlog in criminal cases and, most relevant to this blog, resolving IMPACS.
Three months after officially taking office, on the 2nd of February, 2017. The DPP made the following comments in a national broadcast on NTN.
“Most of the media personal are well-educated persons, and we know ignorance of the law is no excuse… I am available, and I have said to some of the media practitioners that you can come and we can sit and discuss that matters that can be aired… I want to empower you.”
While it is generally accepted that ignorance of the law is no excuse, the criminal code of Saint Lucia does make provisions in some offences where it may be used as a defence. We will dive into this topic at a later date when discussing the reform of our criminal code. I am only making this point to clarify that it is not a hard and face rule. There is a certain level of discretion the judiciary may apply if a defence can justify its arguments of ignorance of the law.
The purpose of revisiting the DPP’s comments from 2017 was to establish that he announced a degree of openness to the media which some media professionals would say never materialized. We have seldom seen or heard from the DPP for the past four years, with calls of inquiry going unanswered. Leave room for the precise media speculation he proclaimed a desire to abort.
Therefore, to the standard of a reasonable person, the question of timing becomes not only legitimate but prudent.
1 — Why would he break his long-running silence with mere days before members of our Law Enforcement Agencies and the nation go to the polls?
2 — Why was the DPP at the press conference held a few weeks prior where the American Ambassador, Prime Minister, and Commissioner of Police announced the parietal easing of sanction on the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force (RSLPF)?
Regarding his recent address to the nation, the DPP said.
“I want to advise, though, that these investigations, due to their nature, have no statutory limitation period. Meaning there is no time limit for the investigation or institution of charges against persons where sufficient evidence is gathered to do so. The police force, therefore, can continue investigations in such matters over a lengthy period of time. This may be as a result or consequence of lines of investigation or evidence becoming available some years after the occurrence of an incident. I believe, therefore, that this is a convenient juncture to update the public on my continued review of these matters. And to provide you with my decisions at this stage regarding the possible prosecution of persons involved. And to address what has widely been referred to as the IMPACS Report.”
The DPP’s carefully crafted statement, four years after his last address to the nation and days before a contentiously contested general election, did not directly address why believed to be a convenient time to give an update to the public. Evoking the lack of any statutory limitation and saying that it may be instead of explicitly that it was or was not leave the same room for speculation his motivations. Was it because of new lines of inquiry or new evidence? I would have appreciated a more definitive comment on the matter.
The DPP further stated.
“To date, I can report that I am not in receipt of any material from the Jamaican constabulary force. Therefore, the final report provided by the Jamaican team does not amount to evidence or relevant material compiled in a criminal investigation that I am able to act upon it however provided possible lines of inquiry and opinions, all of which I believe should remain under seal to eliminate any possibility of prejudice to anyone concerned. Consequently, There was an appointment of local investigators to conduct a review of the report provided by the Jamaican team and also to conduct homicide investigations into the matters under review.”
The DPP concluded by stating that after reviewing the findings of all 12 case files, he has advised the Commissioner of Police that he did not find sufficient evidence at this stage for charges to be made in 5 of the 12 cases. In the remaining 7 cases. The DPP has advised the Commissioner of Police that lines of inquiry remain to be explored, which leaves the status of these investigations is active and ongoing.
The DPP ended his address by indicating his intentions to provide a subsequent update in due course after further investigations are completed. At this moment, I am unaware of when the DPP’s contract is up for reconsideration or if the SLP would be so inclined to support the renewal of his term. But if the respons by the Political Leader of the SLP is any indication, I highly doubt he would find any favour if they were to form the next administration.
It is safe to say the Mr. Peirre was not as reliably informed as he thought because while the DPP announced he has advised that his office would not prosecute five of the cases, the remaining seven remain under investigation. As the DPP stated in his address, there is no statute of limitations on these matters. Therefore if evidence emerges that brings these five cases back into question, the investigations may be reopened and eventually prosecuted.
While this may resolve the American Governments concerns and encourage the continued easing of sanctions, one thing is for sure. Saint Lucia will be dealing with and discussing IMPACS for an unknown time as there is very little light to be seen at the end of the tunnel from the public’s perspective.
With all that being said, I leave you with a question to answer in the comments. Will these comments by the DPP affect the voting block of Law Enforcement Agencies? If it will, do you think it helps or hurts the incumbent candidates?
For me, only time will tell, and that time is drawing near. So until then.
Be strong, stay safe, and God bless Saint Lucia.
See the DPP’s 21st of July, 2021 address to the nation in the video below.
See the DPP’s 2nd of February, 2017 address to the nation in the video below.