Opposition to move motion for removal of Senator from House
Members of Parliament on the opposition bench will move a motion next Tuesday in another stand against Senator Ashelle Morgan’s presence in the House of Assembly, amidst ongoing investigations into the shooting of Cornelius John.
At a press conference on Wednesday afternoon, Dr Godwin Friday, the opposition leader, made this intention known ahead of next week’s sitting of Parliament; he read the motion in its entirety.
The motion, which is to be moved by the opposition leader and seconded by Terrance Ollivierre, the Member of Parliament for the Southern Grenadines, is “On Conduct and Responsibility of Members”.
“I have an obligation as the leader of the opposition to stand on principle for the people of this country, and when there is such a widespread interest in this matter, an outcry in some parts of the public, and demands for action to be taken, I cannot sit silent, and the opposition members in the Parliament cannot, and will not sit silent,” Friday said during the press conference. He was referring to the ongoing investigations into the shooting of Diamond resident, Cornelius John, in which senator Morgan, who is also Deputy Speaker of the House of Assembly, and Karim Nelson, the Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions are said to be persons of interest.
The motion is a follow up in the opposition’s continued efforts to raise the matter in the House, after Friday was made to withdraw at the last sitting of Parliament, when he protested Morgan’s presence in Parliament and requested that the she remove herself or that the Speaker have her removed.
“This is a very serious matter for the Parliament to consider, because the matter that it addresses is one that affects, of course, the rights of the individuals who are involved, but more than that, it affects the administration of justice and respect for the rule of law,” Friday said.
“It touches very deeply on these matters, and so we have to be, as a society, concerned about them and to use whatever means we have at our disposal to raise them, to debate them, to shine light upon them so that the just resolution can be achieved.”
In the two decades that the ULP administration has formed government, the opposition side of the House has never been successful in moving a Private Members motion in Parliament.
However, the opposition leader insisted that “it is our duty to use…whatever means we have at our disposal to address matters that are of deep and abiding public concern to ensure that in this particular case, a full investigation is completed, and the administration of justice takes its true course, and then overall, that confidence in the criminal justice system and adherence to the rule of law is restored and fostered in St Vincent and the Grenadines”.
Friday added that “without these things, our rights are not protected, democracy cannot thrive, and St Vincent and the Grenadines will be a country where there is rule, not of law, but of men and women in power”.
The Motion on Conduct and Responsibility of Members to be moved by Friday in Parliament on Tuesday reads:
WHEREAS this Honourable House must seek always to promote the values and principles enshrined in our laws and democratic traditions and to foster respect for the rule of law;
AND WHEREAS each Member of Parliament is accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office;
AND WHEREAS each Member of Parliament shall never undertake any action which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Assembly as a whole, or of its Members generally;
AND WHEREAS it is alleged that Mr. Cornelius John was beaten and shot in his leg at his home in Diamond and that Senator and Deputy Speaker Ashelle Morgan was one of three assailants involved in the incident;
AND WHEREAS the Commissioner of Police has confirmed publicly that the matter is under police investigation and that Senator Morgan is a person of interest in the investigation;
AND WHEREAS this matter has stirred the conscience of our nation and caused many to question the administration of justice and the rule of law in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
AND WHEREAS Senator Morgan attended the meeting of the House of Assembly on May 11th, 2021 and the Leader of the Opposition with the full support of all members of the Opposition sought to invite Senator Morgan to withdraw from the sitting of the House or to have her suspended from the House pending the outcome of the police investigation into the serious allegations concerning her;
AND WHEREAS Senator Morgan was appointed by the Governor General acting on the advice of the Prime Minister and that appointment can be revoked by the Governor General acting on the advice of the Prime Minister;
AND WHEREAS Senator Morgan has not withdrawn from the House and her appointment as senator has not been revoked and thus, she remains a member of the House and the Deputy Speaker;
AND WHEREAS the Speaker of the House has a constitutional duty to interpret and apply the Standing Orders so as to facilitate debate and promote the decorum and dignity of the House;
BE IT RESOLVED that this Honourable House call on Senator and Deputy Speaker Ashelle Morgan to withdraw from the sittings of House pending the outcome of the police investigation into the serious allegations made against her in relation to the beating and shooting of Cornelius John;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that should Senator Morgan fail or refuse to withdraw; she be suspended for the sittings of the House pending the outcome of the police investigation into the serious allegations made against her in relation to the beating and shooting of Cornelius John.