Prime Minister, Allen Chastanet, has disclosed that the problem in getting a new Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), is that the salary for the position is woefully inadequate.
“Despite many attempts to recruit a new DPP, which is handled by the justice system, we have not,” Chastanet told a news conference yesterday to report on his recent trip overseas to the United Kingdom, France and Morocco.
He observed that recently Saint Kitts hired a new DPP after going through a long process.
“The person is now being paid in excess of a hundred and twenty thousand US dollars,” the Prime Minister stated.
Recently, National Security Minister, Hermangild Francis, revealed that in Antigua a DPP gets about $22,000 monthly, whereas in Anguilla the figure is about $21, 000, but in Saint Lucia, $13,000 monthly.
Chastanet said that in the case of this country, the first step has been taken by upgrading the post of DPP to grade twenty-one.
“We are also looking into the possibility of hiring a person on contract in what is a constitutional position and we are waiting on feedback from lawyers to tell us whether that is possible or not,” he explained.
Observing that it may not be possible, the Prime Minister asserted that the DPP’s salary would then have to be upgraded even higher to attract someone to the post.
He noted that Saint Lucia has not had a DPP since the beginning of the year.
That’s when the last person to hold the post, Victoria Charles-Clarke, retired.
Chastanet asserted that the absence of a DPP is affecting the function of justice system here.
“We have over four thousand cases in backlog,” he declared.
The Prime Minister spoke about the Lambirds case.
“All lawyers are entitled to do what they have to do so I am not faulting the defense lawyers, but we are not equipped; so the cases have begun, the cases have been postponed, the cases have been delayed, the kids have gone back; there’s a question as to whether there are enough witnesses; but meanwhile the world is looking at us and saying – ‘this situation stinks’,” Chastanet told yesterday’s news conference.
He said while the court has not made such a ruling,many people believe that the Lambirds matter was a human trafficking situation.
The PM said because of the former government’s approval of the Lambirds programme by issuing visas and certifying the Lambirds university,it begs the question as to whether the past administration was involved.
Chastanet spoke of the need to have the Lambirds situation resolved, but explained that because there is a separation between the executive and the judiciary, the only way that the executive can do so is by providing the necessary resources.