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NDP bashes Gonsalves over statement about visiting Lawyers

NDP bashes Gonsalves over  statement about visiting Lawyers


The opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has hit out at Prime Minister Dr Ralph Gonsalves for issuing threats of deportation to a group of visiting regional lawyers.{{more}}

Speaking at a pre-election rally last Saturday, December 11, Gonsalves said that he had heard that the NDP had brought in a group of lawyers to monitor the elections.

“I want to say this. The Immigration has told me that the lawyers have come here on vacation,” Gonsalves explained.

“No problem, they are from the Caribbean – but once they change their status of visitors and start to work on Election Day, they have changed their status and would have lied to the Immigration authorities and will be liable for deportation,” he contended.

Gonsalves further explained that it was up to the police to decide whether or not the lawyers would be charged with an offence.

“But, remember, if you get locked up on Monday, it not easy to get bail on Tuesday, because Tuesday is going to be celebration time,” Gonsalves said.

“I can’t go to Trinidad as a visitor and then turn around and work; if they come in to work they have to get the work permit and I am the Minister of work permit,” he declared.

He also stated that they would have had the all clear if they were in the possession of a CARICOM skilled national certificate.

“And I am the one responsible for signing them and I did not sign any for them.”

He urged his supporters to be vigilant on polling day and warned the visiting lawyers to stay within the 100 yard limit of the polling stations.

“But if they come in within that will be an offence,” he said.

“They can trample Panday, they can trample Patrick Manning – they can’t trample Ralph Gonsalves.”

But Opposition Leader Arnhim Eustace at a press conference last Sunday, December 12, responded saying that the threat made by the prime minister was “ridiculous and really unbecoming of a Prime Minister.”

Lawyer for the NDP Kay Bacchus-Browne contended that the lawyers did not need a work permit because they would not be working.

“In any event, the CARICOM National Act will apply to them. Most of these lawyers are already called to the Bar in St. Vincent anyway, so even if they were to work, there should be no issue,” she said.

“As far as I know, St. Vincent is a free and fair country, where democracy reigns, and if CARICOM lawyers want to come here to ensure we have free and fair elections, I think our government should be heralding that, not disputing it,” she said.