COMMISSION OF INQUIRY
Take Notice that Her Excellency the Governor-General has issued a
Commission appointing Miss Monica Joseph, retired High Court Judge of the OECS Supreme
Court as Commissioner and authorising her to inquire into the several matters hereunder
set out under the provisions of the Commissions of Inquiry Ordinance Chapter five of the
Revised Laws of Saint Lucia, 1957.
1. To inquire into :
(a) the payment by the government of Saint Lucia to Mrs. Shirley M. Lewis of a sum of EC$10,365.15 for professional services rendered in the criminal case Police vs. Claudius Francis by Virement Warrant 144 of 1996/97 : Savings : 160-05, in order to -
(i) establish whether in all the circumstances, payment was due from the government of Saint Lucia to Mrs. Lewis for the matters claimed in her letter of claim, dated January 8, 1996;
(ii) identify the person or persons who authorised, endorsed or in any way facilitate the payment of the said sum to Mrs. Lewis and establish whether the person or persons acted with the approval and/or knowledge of the Cabinet of Ministers or any Minister or senior public official of the government of Saint Lucia;
(iii) determine whether the person or persons who authorised, endorsed or facilitate the said payment was subject to any dues and if so, by whom;
(iv) determine whether the government of Saint Lucia has the right to recover all or any part of the money paid to Mrs. Lewis and if so, identify the steps to be taken to so recover the same.
(b) the payment out of the Consolidated Fund of certain sums of money to Mr. Ausbert d'Auvergne under a Technical Agreement signed by the then Prime Minister John Compton and an official of ECLAC, on 24th July, 1992, in order to:
(i) determine whether any authority existed under the existing law and the established practice and procedure of the Public Service to permit such payments and identify any breaches thereof which took place;
(ii) identify the person or persons who authorised, endorsed or facilitate the said payments to Mr. Ausbert d'Auvergne and establish whether the person or persons acted with approval and/or knowledge of the Cabinet of Ministers or any Minister or senior public official of the Government of St. Lucia;
(iii) determine whether any action may be taken by the government of Saint Lucia and/or any person whose act or omission facilitated such payment may be sanctioned.
(c) the construction of a road in Shanty Town during the period of April to May, 1997 in Vieux Fort so as to determine whether:
(i) there was any proper authorisation for the construction thereof;
(ii) there was any breach of government's established procedure for the selection of a contractor in matters of this nature;
(iii) Government is liable to any person for payments in connection with the said construction.
(d) the arrangements entered into between former Minister of Community Development, Social Affairs, Youth, Sports, Cooperatives and Local Government, Desmond Brathwaite and Klohn-Crippen for preparatory work on a national stadium in order to:
(i) establish whether the former Minister's acts in this regard were properly authorised by the Cabinet of Ministers;
(ii) establish whether the established procedure for the selection and awarding of contracts by the government of St. Lucia was followed and if not, what are the consequences thereof;
(iii) determine government's liability of Klohn-Crippen in all the circumstances;
(iv) determine whether the government of St. Lucia can take legal action against any person in consequence of any liability which may attach to the government of St. Lucia.
(e) the circumstances surrounding the sale of approximately 26 acres of beach front land in Roseau Bay by Model Farms Ltd., (a company in liquidation) to Genesis Ltd., to determine:
(i) the beneficial owners of Genesis Ltd., at the time of the transaction;
(ii) whether the price paid for the lands represented, in all the circumstances, a fair market price;
(iii) whether the public servant was concerned directly in the sale transaction and if so, whether this involvement breached any law or any regulation of the civil service.
And further to enquire into any and all allegations of fraud, corruption, breach of trust, conflict of interest or any wrongdoing, impropriety or irregularity whatsoever made by anyone against any person arising out of an in connection with any or all of the above.
2. To identify existing legal and administrative deficiencies which may permit or otherwise facilitate acts of impropriety or illegality by public officers or other employees of the Crown in the course of their duties and make recommendations to address the same.
3. To make such observations and recommendations pertaining to the above Terms of Reference as the Commissioner deems appropriate.
And Take Notice that members of the public are invited to submit Memoranda or statements to the Secretary of the Commission of Inquiry, pertaining to any or all of the Terms of Reference set out above by sending the same to:
Ms. Veronica Cenac
Secretary to the Commission of Inquiry
Office of the Clerk of Parliament
Castries, St. Lucia
Commission of Inquiry
Monica Joseph C.B.E. - Commissioner
1. By Instrument dated the 17th day of September, 1997, Her Excellency the
Governor General appointed me Commissioner of this Commission of Inquiry, by virtue of
Section 2 of the Commissions of Inquiry Ordinance Chapter 5 of the Revised Laws of St.
Lucia 1975. My appointment became effective on the 18th September 1997 on which date the
Commission was published in an extraordinary issue of the St. Lucia Gazette.
2. Counsel to the Commission is eminent senior counsel Mr. Alan Alexander who is assisted by two junior counsel : Dexter Theodore and Clarence Rambally. Mr. Rambally will not be assisting the Commission in any matter which is related to any topic in an Inquiry held in 1995 during which he appeared in another capacity. The Secretary of the Commission is Attorney at Law, Miss. Veronica Cenac.
3. Section 7 of the Commission of Inquiry Ordinance prescribes the duty of the Commissioner. Upon taking the oath which I did not the 19th of September, 1997, I am to make full, faithful and impartial inquiry into the matter specified in the Commission and to report in writing to the Governor General. I shall do - with the cooperation and assistance of members of the public.
4. Section 10 of the Act empowers the Commission to issue summons requiring any person named in the summons to appear before the Commission and give evidence on oath relative to the matters to be inquired into.
5. By virtue of Section 18 of the Ordinance, any person whose conduct may be the subject of this inquiry or who is in any ways implicated or concerned in a matter which is being inquired into, is entitled to be represented by counsel. Any other person who considers it desirable that he should be represented by counsel may, with the leave of the Commissioner, be so represented. Applications for leave are to be made in writing to the Secretary of the Commission.
6. Any person wishing to give evidence should communicate with the Secretary of the Commission at the Office of the Commission of Inquiry, Parliament Building, Castries, indicating in writing the substance of the material to be put before the Commission.
7. The role of the Commissioner is to ascertain the truth from the evidence given and witnesses are invited to give evidence that is relevant to the matters under inquiry and to refrain from introducing irrelevant matters. This is an inquiry and not a trial. I refer to the report of the Royal Commission on Tribunals of Inquiry 1966 White Paper Command 3121 chaired by the Rt. Hon. Lord Justice Salmon - paragraph 30.
"There are important distinctions between inquisitorial procedure and the procedure in an ordinary civil or criminal case. It is inherent in the inquisitorial procedure that there is no lies. The Tribunal directs the inquiry and the witnesses are necessarily the Tribunal's witnesses. There is no plaintiff or defendant, no prosecutor or accused; there are no pleadings defining issues to be tried, no charges, indictments, or depositions."
So my role is abundantly clear : my role is that of fact finding. I invite all those appearing at this Commission hearing - whether as witness or counsel - to keep that role firmly in mind : fact finding and recommendations. I shall consider the evidence before me and impartially, faithfully and fairly try to arrive at what the true facts are. Without fear and without favour, I shall record my findings and recommendations in a report to Her Excellency the Governor General.
8. Where a witness whom an allegation is made is to be called that witness will be informed in writing of the allegation made and given the substance of evidence in support of the allegation.
9. During the proceedings - where a witness is represented by counsel that witness may be led through his evidence by his counsel followed by cross examination by counsel or the Commission and re-examination by his counsel. Where a witness is not represented by counsel then counsel for Commission would lead that witness through his evidence, followed by cross examination by another counsel for the Commission and re-examination by the first examining counsel. Witnesses are requested to submit statements of their evidence to the Secretary of the Commission in advance of giving evidence.
10. The rules of evidence in a Court of Law are not applicable during this inquiry and the Commission may admit hearsay evidence although the use that hearsay evidence may be put to will be limited. The standard of proof will be the civil standard of proof on a balance of probabilities.
11. Notices have been sent to the media inviting members of the public who have information relative to the matters under inquiry to come forward and assist the Commission. The Commission looks forward to help from members of the public in arriving at the truth.
12. A number of persons by virtue of the posts they hold have been invited to be present throughout the entire hearing as they would be in a position to assist the Commission. They are the Director of Audit, the Director of Finance and the Accountant General. The Director of Public Prosecutions will later read the letters of invitation addressed to these public officers.
13. The Commission will sit in this Chamber from Monday to Friday. The house of sitting will be 9:30 am to 2:00 pm or as indicated from time to time. In deciding on those hours the Commission bore in mind a number of factors, one being the position of the public offices who have been invited to attend the entire hearing and who daily, would have to attend at their departments.
ROLE OF MEDIA
14. As to the role of the media during the inquiry, again I cite from the report referred to earlier - at paragraph 119.
"It has been suggested to us that the Press should be prohibited from reporting the proceedings day by day and that the evidence should be made public only after the publication of the Tribunal's report. This would no doubt eliminate the pain sometimes caused to innocent persons by the glare of publicity. On the other hand, we are satisfied on the evidence that on balance it is in the interest of innocent persons against whom allegations have been made or rumors circulated to have the opportunity of giving their evidence and destroying the evidence against them in the full light of publicity." and at paragraph 121
"We have also considered the suggestion that the Press tends to highlight sensational aspects of the evidence without providing the other side of the picture. No doubt when this occurs it is largely due to the difficulties which the newspaper has in giving an accurate account of the proceedings because of the roving nature of the investigations and the consequent problem of all concerned of distinguishing between what is important and what is not. We wish to emphaise the extreme care which the Press should exercise in reporting these matters. It should be made clear, particularly in the opening stages of an inquiry, that only one side is then being published. This is especially important in an inquisitorial inquiry when new facts may emerge suddenly during the proceedings. Care should also be taken to give the same prominence to the evidence of persons denying allegations or rumors made against them as was given to the allegations and rumors themselves. We are confident that the Press in general can safety be relied upon to be fair to all persons involved in an Inquiry."
The Commission adopts those comments. Guided by the principles enunciated in the text of the excerpts from Lord Justice Salmon's report I have directed the Secretary of the Commission to invite the electronic media to broadcast the entire proceedings. The Secretary has communicated with the appropriate governmental authority to ascertain whether or not this is feasible.
15. When I was requested to serve as Commissioner I indicated that I was involved in an arbitration matter and the dates originally given for the commencement of hearing before this commission took into account that matter in another country scheduled for 6th to 10th October 1997. The Commission will therefore not be sitting on those dates. I regret any inconvenience caused.
16. I am informed that this Chamber will be required for a sitting of parliament on Tuesday 14 October 1997, so that hearing will commence on Wednesday 15 October 1997. The adjournment to 15th October will give time to all persons who wish to assist the work of the Commission. On the morning of the Friday 17 October 1997 the Secretary of the Commission will be admitted to practice at the St. Lucia Bar. The hours of hearing on that day will therefore be 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
17. Copies of this opening statement are available from the Secretary of the Commission free of cast to any counsel representing witnesses; to unrepresented witnesses and to the media. I regret that the same indulgence cannot be extended to other persons.
18. The Secretary will now read the Terms of Reference of the Commission and the letters of invitation to the Director of Audit, the Director of Finance, the Accountant General and the Director of Public Prosecutions.
I wish to thank you all for attending today.
Monica T. Joseph