On 11th May, the capital city of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG) found itself in the midst of a series of protests against several issues.
From the government’s response to the eruption of La Soufriere volcano to the presence of an embattled senator in the national assembly, protesters highlighted a number of issues.
Statement Released by the Opposition Party of St Vincent and the Grenadines
The New Democratic Party (NDP), said it is “extremely concerned about the profoundly disturbing matter of the shooting and beating of a man just over three weeks ago and the involvement of a Senator and a senior public official and a third person as alleged assailants”.
In a release dated May 8, 2021, the party pointed out that St. Vincent and the Grenadines is a country of laws and “we believe in the Rule of Law which guarantees the equality of all citizens before the law”.
The party said it believes as well in the transparent and fair administration of justice and abhor the abuse or misuse of power.
“With respect to the alleged brutal attack by Senator and Deputy Speaker Ms. Ashelle Morgan, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Mr. Karim Nelson, and another male person upon Mr. Cornelius John, a senior citizen, on the night of 13th April, 2021 while he was in the sanctity of his home, we call on Commissioner of Police Mr. Colin John and Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms Sejilla McDowall to conduct an impartial, transparent investigation and to bring charges against the alleged perpetrators of this attack based on the evidence”.
The NDP release continued that “ If, as it is alleged, Mr. Cornelius John committed any offence, he too should be investigated and charged as warranted”.
The party said it further condemns “the recent extensive comments on the matter by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves on NBC radio on 4th May, 2021 as being inappropriate and ill-advised”.
“His attempt to excuse the inaction so far of the Commissioner of Police by saying ‘partisan politics is a hell of a thing… Partisan politics, if the shoe was on the other foot and it was an NDP woman and an NDP parliamentarian or high party member who had gotten involved in this, you know how the story was going to spin? has absolutely no merit”.
The release noted that it has always been the party’s position that the criminal justice system must be impartial and treat everyone equally.
“Has Prime Minister Gonsalves forgotten the unwanted and malicious re-arrest of then Senator Vynnette Frederick by a party of male police officers immediately after the case brought against her had been dismissed by the court?
“Further, he must also remember the assault and arrest of NDP candidate Mr. Ben Exeter for carrying his licensed firearm concealed in his waist…” the release added.
The NDP said that “this serious matter must not be made a political issue,” and that “the alleged assailants must be brought to justice. It cannot be the proper functioning of the criminal justice system, especially the police, that three weeks after the shooting no one has been detained and no one has been charged”.
The party is hopeful that “the reported comments by Commissioner of Police Mr. Colin John, in the Searchlight newspaper about cross complaints being made implies, that charges are forthcoming. Is there a credible reason for delay”?
“Ms. Ashelle Morgan is the Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly. The NDP calls on her to step-down or be suspended from that position pending the outcome of the matter”.
Concluding, the NDP said that “St. Vincent and the Grenadines boasts of a seat on the United Nations Security Council.
Surely, we must be seen to be safeguarding the security and rights of every person in St. Vincent and the Grenadines and to be upholding the rule of law. As we have stated, no one is above the law”.
This is a full text of the release from the SearchLight newspaper
Impact of the Volcanic Eruption on the Island
The eruption of the Soufrière Volcano on St Vincent and Grenadines could cost the nation 50% of its gross domestic product.
- Airports in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines are closed.
- Maritime assets are limited.
- Approximately 30 villages have been evacuated.
- Between 16,000 and 20,000 people have been affected.
- Some 3,500 people are in 85 shelters.
About St Vincent and the Grenadines
There are 32 islands and cays that makeup St Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG). Nine are inhabited, including the mainland St Vincent and the Grenadines