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La Corbinere Urged To Address Forensic Lab Concerns

Director Said To Have Resigned, Facility Closed.

Dr. Gale Rigobert
Dr. Gale Rigobert

A warning has been issued to the government to address certain issues at the Forensic Lab immediately which if not done could put the entire future of the institution in jeopardy.

The warning comes from the Leader of the Opposition, Dr. Gale Rigobert who says that allegations of serious security breaches at the $6 million facility at Tapion have reached her and that this could very well determine the innocence or guilt of someone whose fate depends on the accuracy of results coming from the lab.

The five year old facility has been dogged by controversy since its opening.

There have been allegations of security breaches for some time now. However, within the last two weeks the situation took a turn for the worst resulting in the closure of the lab and the resignation of its Director.

Rigobert wants the Minister for Home Affairs and National Security, Victor Phillip La Corbiniere to address Saint Lucians on the matter.

“Word reaching me suggests that there have been serious security breaches at the forensic lab warranting an investigation and an audit of what has been taking place there. The director has resigned. I do not want to make assumptions as to why the director has resigned but I am well aware that one of her main concerns for a long while has been the inadequate security at the lab,” Rigobert told The VOICE.

The lab, which was opened in December 2009 with Governor General Dame PearletteLouisy performing the symbolic ribbon cutting was said to be an investment that would earn the country some revenue since it would serve the countries of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).

The lab was seen then as an important facility that would assist in keeping crime down and as a preventative measure in the fight against crime.

The Forensic Laboratory is Formally Opened.
The Forensic Laboratory is Formally Opened.

Back then it was thought that having a forensic science laboratory would greatly boost public expectations that more criminals would be brought to justice with the various testings that would take place there for drug and murder cases.

In fact, police officers say they have been hampered in their investigations into certain criminal acts by the lack of a forensic lab not only for DNA testing, but for other testing that could go a long way in clinching a decisive victory for them in a criminal court.

In calling for someone in authority to look into the allegations of security breaches at the lab, Rigobert notes that there are people charged with a crime whose innocence or guilt is dependent on the activities of the lab.

“So we cannot let suspicions and rumours run wild without an authoritative figure giving a definite and comprehensive statement on the state of affairs at the forensic lab. That is too important an issue to leave to speculation or rumour,” she said.

She added: “Why has it taken this long for the Minister responsible for Home Affairs and National Security, Senator Victor La Corbinierre to address the public on this matter. The public needs to know why wasn’t a more stringent and rigorous security system implemented, notwithstanding the incessant complaints and requests for additional security by the former Director and given the sensitivity of the samples stored at the Lab? And why have there been expressions of grave discomfort with respect to storing critical evidence.”

The Opposition Leader wants to know whether It’s true that evidence stored at the lab, including illicit substances sent in for testing have changed in composition and volume overnight and whether a foreign entity had been commissioned to investigate the operations of the lab, and if so who is that person or agency. Further, whether there are plans to install new management given the resignation of the Director and whether the lab had been shut down by the government and why.

Rigobert is of the view that if the situation at the lab is not addressed by the government then doubt can be cast on the credibility of the operations of the lab which could put the entire future of the institution in jeopardy.

Micah George is an established name in the journalism landscape in St. Lucia. He started his journalism tutelage under the critical eye of the Star Newspaper Publisher and well known journalist, Rick Wayne, as a freelancer. A few months later he moved to the Voice Newspaper under the guidance of the paper’s recognized editor, Guy Ellis in 1988.

Since then he has remained with the Voice Newspaper, progressing from a cub reporter covering court cases and the police to a senior journalist with a focus on parliamentary issues, government and politics. Read full bio...

6 Comments

  1. Sad! This was supposed to have been a state-of-the-art facility. It was hoped it would strengthen the crime-busting capabilities of the Police. It was supposed to pay for itself by providing forensic services to the rest of the OECS. Look at it now! After 7 years these hopes and dreams are now shuttered.

    But aren’t there similar hopes for the 2 new hospitals?

    At some point we will learn that hopes and dreams aren’t enough.

  2. Yes very sad indeed as so much effort, time and money (about 10 million really) was pumped into building that facility, equipping it and establishing its mandated services. Tax payers have been funding it ever since without any tangible benefits for the justice system. But such a situation was inevitable.

    This latest episode was only the culmination of a series of issues involving poor decision making and bad management practices. Unfortunately those responsible for its predicament will all easily move on leaving a facility its credibility almost destroyed and which will take a mammoth effort to have restored. Victims of crime and the justice system will all be the losers. But it is not the first time as the previous lab was also shutdown in 2004. Apparently nothing has been learnt. All of that should never have happened

  3. What’s the sense of building a forensic facility that thieves, vandals and saboteurs can enter seemingly at will? Anyone who knows anything about forensic science must know how easily a sample can be contaminated. We don’t look good when we take such a lax approach to the things that really matter.

  4. St Lucia is one of the most incompetently run countries I’ve ever seen. For a country which is basically the size of an English city, it’s breathtaking to see how poorly run it is. Everyone has their piggy noses in the trough but there is zero accountability.

    You fund the facility, put it under the direction of appropriately qualified personnel, with overall oversight by a minister. If it falls, the minister is sacked and replaced. It’s not fucking difficult. Most other places seem to manage, but it’s beyond the wit of St Lucians to fix?

    La corb is a shambles of a man. He has nothing to say on crime, he has nothing to say about the police and its structures. You can bet your last dollar he is around when it comes to opening a bridge or an envelope. Ask him to do his job though – he disappears like poltergeist.

    I fear for St Lucia right now.

  5. Well said all the above.
    It seems government ministers live on a different planet from their constituents. How in God’s name can they ignore this? It’s time they grew some b…. and do what they’re paid to do.
    What deterrent is there for those committing crime – they stick their fingers to authority as they know they will get away with murder…literally. The police need support, the wherewithal to process crimes, and the courts need decent facilities and the necessary backup to bring justice. Anarchy rules, and that seems ok.
    Not so beautiful Helen of the West Indies any more.

  6. Same will happen to the new hospital. St. Lucia has hardly any local surgeons that are top ranking. Many are foreign doctors, that come to work here at mediocre wages, but higher than in their home countries like India and Nigeria a.o. No top-ranking surgeon will work in St. Lucia for a mediocre wage.
    The new hospital will be a white elephant.

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