I am neither amazed, not amused by the fact that the IMPACS Report has become a political football. Nor do I at all take seriously the claim that only politicians are kicking it around.
Fact is the report has been kicked around from the night it was delivered on March 8, 2015 to the day it was sent to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) – and every day since then.
From the moment the Prime Minister quoted snippets to underline its gravity, interested parties started alleging he had done wrong. There were (widely expected) calls for the report to be made a public document, despite the Prime Minister having indicated in his address why that just couldn’t happen.
The Prime Minister indicated — and repeated later during his budget address last year — that financial allocations had been made for three additional Senior Counsels to assist the DPPs Office with the report, if it determined there was need for prosecution. But, by her own admission, the (then) DPP took all of six months before even opening the report – and did so extra-judicially, while on private holiday time!
Evidently, after her holiday perusal of that most important Case File of national import on her desk, the DPP also (evidently) decided she would go not an inch further. It wasn’t until the matter was (felt to have been) raised on a political platform that the DPP took time off to offer some indication of what was happening with a report of such import.
Only through a (very emotionally charged) call the DPP made (to a daily talk show on a private radio station) did the rest of the nation know that she had determined the IMPACS Report would be relegated to the scrap heap of a cold case file. Only then did she say her first public words of substance on the report.
But the DPP did not offer any type of explanation as to why she waited until her retirement leave was just days away to let the nation know that from day one (eight months earlier), she had decided she wouldn’t touch the IMACS Report — not even with a ten-foot pole.
Instead, she legally kicked the ball straight into official legal and judicial oblivion for the rest of her days on her field — where, akin to being judge, jury and executioner, she was (undoubtedly) also captain and centre forward, goalie and referee.
But the DPP wasn’t the only kicking player. Star Publisher Rick Wayne wants the government to confirm whether the pieces of paper he claims to be selectively quoting from are in fact extracts from the real IMPACS Report. The UWP leader also denies he has a copy, but says he knows it has 31 Chapters. He also claims the Prime Minister is the only one with a copy of the report — which begs the question as to what was sent to the DPP.
The National Security Minister at the time of Operation Restore Confidence claims (today) that he knows absolutely Nothing, Nothing, Nothing about what led to the IMPACS Report. But what we all know is that he knows (better than anyone else) why such a report has to be treated with the utmost of secrecy, in highest confidence. He knows how many lives are at stake if the names of persons who gave evidence to the investigators become public. He knows how many police officers named in the report will have their lives even further turned upside-down if the Report is made public. Yet Mr.Mayers and his party complain that the Prime Minister is saying Not a word, Not a word, Not a word about their demands that he release it.
Not all local media houses are demanding that the IMPACS Report be published in the public interest. There are still those here who understand that Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Information do come with responsibilities. Not all will want blood on their hands. And none want to be accused of contributing to efforts to (eventually) render it not even worth the paper printed in a court of law.
But there are still (as will always be) those in the press here (like everywhere else) who will wish to be able to claim to be the first to break the story, the first to quote an authenticated leaked copy of the report.
The question is, though, can anyone today — any media house or media person, political party or politician, man or woman – credibly claim to have an official copy of the IMPACS report? None has. And even if anyone had or has it, can anyone or any party or any media house actually publish it just like that? I don’t think so.
Unfortunately, all who insist on making the Report public will also claim they want to see justice done for both the alleged victims and accused police officers. Yet they still also insist on calling for the government to do exactly what will not only prevent due process from being processed, but can also result in everything from loss of life to disappearance of witnesses.
Those playing political football with the IMPACS Report should take their boots off. They are sprinkling gasoline over fire to fan flames that will not be extinguished. Many lives have been lost, but many more are at stake.
But instead of fanning the flames of anarchy, it will be much better if we sought to ensure that the budgetting made in the last budget for financing the cost of the DPP Office processing due process is maintained in this (2016-17) national budget.
The European Union has reiterated its insistence that due process be done and seen to have been done. The last DPP chose not to accept the three new senior counsel offered by the Finance Minister. Let us hope the next will grab the offer.
Meanwhile, we had better take warning – before it is too late!