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Are we damaging the Government or the country?


Recent developments at the national level have once again led to a rash of damaging statements from some quarters, which, if meant to embarrass or hurt the Government, are in reality very damaging to the image of St. Vincent and the Grenadines as a whole.{{more}}

Two of the major issues have been the decision by the government of Canada to impose visa requirements for Vincentians and the decision by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to discontinue charges of attempted murder and attempting kidnapping against five Venezuelans arising out of an incident off Union Island in June, which also resulted in the death of a Vincentian customs guard and three foreign nationals.

Both incidents have been major talking points and, inevitably, political stones have been aimed both at Government and the Opposition. We are however also particularly concerned about statements which cast aspersions on our justice system, going as far up the line as the Caribbean Court of Justice.

Why the attacks on the character of our legal luminary, Justice Adrian Saunders, the lone Vincentian on the highest regional court, just because one is upset about a charge before the local Magistrate’s court?

How also, can one justify the crude attempt to pin blame for Canada’s visa imposition on SVG to our country’s diplomatic relations with Iran? Where is the evidence to support such a theory?

Why are we blaming the Government for the abuse of Canada’s immigration laws by those persons who fraudulently obtained travel documents or made bogus claims in their efforts to enter Canada or attain refugee status there?

In the case of the freeing of the “Venezuelan five”, one can well understand the concern of the public. That case has raised controversy from day one, right through the disclosure that the substance allegedly dumped from the boat was washing soap and not cocaine as had been suspected. But the DPP has said he is willing for his decision to be put to scrutiny by “any prosecutor from any part of the world”. He places his confidence in what he says are the facts of the case. An aggrieved public will understandably express scepticism, but until more facts in the case emerge, and until his challenge is taken up, is he not entitled to the benefit of the doubt?

Admittedly, from the time the current Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) was appointed to his post, questions were raised by the Opposition as to his impartiality, given his previous connections with the governing Unity Labour Party. The situation was not made any easier by the fact that the DPP has had to handle some very sensitive cases with political ramifications. His decisions have not always found favour with the Opposition and some members of the public. However our Court system provides recourse if one is dissatisfied with any decision of the DPP, and so far, the majority of his decisions have been upheld by the Court, even up to the Appeal Court level.

It is also one thing to have one’s own opinion on SVG/Venezuela relations, but should that be used as a basis for questioning the DPP’s decision and to go even further to imply that our entire justice system is hostage to such matters?

We need to take stock of what we are doing and where we are going. This is the same justice system the detractors praise when judgments go in their favour. There is no need to drag our country’s name and our justice system into the gutters to achieve our political ambitions. The result will be the destruction of the very nation whose best interests we say we have at heart.