POLITICAL talking has its uses. But it loses its value, like expired medicine, when it is not followed by suitable action. It was interesting to hear so much chatter concerning the speed with which a French national was brought to trial and released after pointed words from the French Ambassador. Others at Bordelais prison held without trial have no idea when their cases will see the light of day. It reminds us what happens when chicken hawks speak to yard fowls.
The details of the court action and decision to set Eric Sommer free are irrelevant to this writer. What is of concern is how his case suddenly got to the top of the pile. One feels instinctively the power of the French Government. Still, there are crucial questions: Who issued instructions that the case be brought to trial forthwith? What is the fate of the hundreds of locals held at that same place for more summers than Sommer, and without trial?
And the mother of all questions in this: If the government is as dedicated to the separation of powers as it claims, will it investigate the hasty trial and release of the Frenchman? Please do not repeat the ‘separation of powers’ line. It can’t be used to explain why Sommer had his day in court before others who are languishing at Bordelais for much longer. Why the discrimination against locals? Surely, it’s a question which any decent government that claims to represent the interest of ‘the people’ should wish to have answered.
The people of Saint Lucia (especially SLP supporters), who put country before party should demand answers from the government to the above questions. This troubling question gnaws at me. It leads me to ponder the reason Saint Lucians are so passive. Is it a sort of disease aggravated by fear and ignorance? Is this disease of passive lethargy endemic only to this island? And please don’t say that the UWP is not as noisy as the SLP. And do not compare the SLP to a yard fowl that lays an egg and cackles loudly its achievement, while the UWP lays many eggs, and is silent.
People are different when they choose. Everyone feels the pangs of hunger, the pain of violence and the loss of a loved one. Equally, everyone feels the joy of victory and the satisfaction of success. So why are Saint Lucians so passive in the face of such disrespect from politicians they put in office to manage the country – the economy, health care and the justice system in particular.
The most persistent theme that describes the uneasy calm on the island is the lack of a fearless disciple who comes armed only with the word of truth and who fears only God. The word disciple is deliberate as it fits easily into the theme of Holy Week and all that that means to a wilfully Christian society.
Frankly, it’s time the people of Saint Lucia take to the streets and demand more truthful answers from their government. The economy, law and order and the criminal justice system leave too much to be desired. Add this to the lack of job opportunities and the persistent defiance of the government on issues such as IMPACS, Grynberg and others seem to say that the people must cease talking and act. Yes, the situation cries out for a dynamic response such as protest marches. The people must mobilize to force the government to call elections immediately.
The inability of the government to attract more foreign investments is retribution that stalks the land. Didn’t the leader of the SLP (in his role as leader of the opposition), threaten to write to overseas investors asking them not to invest in Saint Lucia? Frankly, there should be a law which prevents any person making such a statement, whether in Parliament or elsewhere, from ever contesting general elections in Saint Lucia.
We hear the cry that the justice system is broken. Has anyone suggested how it might be fixed and by whom? Are the words ‘and nothing happens’ to be the permanent anthem of the criminal justice system? On a recent TV show (Calabash TV, Head to Head on Tuesday 15 March), I said that at present the economy is the most important aspect of public administration with law and order closely following. These two are inextricably bound together. A strong economy in which people are gainfully employed lessens the temptation to commit crime.
The other matter linked to the sinful haste with which Eric Sommer was brought to trial and set free is the lie continuously fed to the people of Saint Lucia regarding the ‘separation of powers’ in the governance of the island. There are ministers of the government and SLP hacks regurgitating that bull. After the Sommer incident and knowing the pressure which the hawk put upon the bare footed yard fowl, does anyone still believe in the notion of ‘separation of powers?
Saint Lucians have watched in silence as the man from the NCA debacle landed a job in Guyana. Then they experienced the discovery of a ‘mistake’ in the Saint Lucia constitution some thirty four years later which was hastily taken to court. And now there is the case of Eric Sommer. Frankly, every intellectual argument regarding the CCJ flew out the window when the ‘constitution mistake’ was adjudicated here. The saving grace was the descending judgment of one of the three judges.
New Labour has tried every way to bend the law to serve its purpose. The amendment of the police appeals legislation and the resulting IMPACS report is another example. What is needed now is follow up action on that report as demanded by the people of Saint Lucia, the EU and US. Bearing the above in mind isn’t it time to wake up and act? Time for action; stop the chatter, enough is enough.