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NDP does not support the government taking legal action

NDP does not support the  government taking legal action


The New Democratic Party (NDP) does not support the decision taken by the government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to take legal action in the aftermath of the arrest of Permanent Representative of SVG to the United Nations Camillo Gonsalves, last Wednesday, March 28, in New York.{{more}}

Leader of the Opposition and President of NDP Arnhim Eustace said at a press conference on Tuesday that this country’s government should meet with the relevant authorities in the United States with a view of coming to an amicable settlement, which the Opposition Leader said is in our best interest.

“We do not believe that the government’s approach is in the best interest of the Vincentian Diaspora in the U.S.A,” Eustace told members of the media during a press briefing Tuesday, April 3.

He further strengthened his party’s position saying that the Opposition was fully aware that the government was currently facing severe financial constraints and would only be able to meet legal payments at the expense of other expenditures, including the “much needed hospital payments, the millions owed to the local private sector and the late wage payments to some public sector workers.”

Eustace said he received a telephone call from the Prime Minister last Wednesday night, and Gonsalves explained to him what had transpired earlier that day in New York.

“He told me that he would send the relevant information to me the following day, Thursday 29. I have since received and studied same,” the Leader of the Opposition said.

He added that he has since received information from other sources, including a Reuters interview with the Ambassador and the New York Police Department.

He went on to describe the incident saying that after he read the report, he concluded that Ambassador Gonsalves should have shown his identification card and that he should not have stepped between the barricades, which according to Eustace had been extended in March 2012, due to heightened security concerns with respect to the state of Israel whose embassy is also housed in the same building.

Eustace however stated that based on the Ambassador’s report, the NYPD officer acted “disproportionately in the circumstances”.

“From the reported manner of his first approach to his grabbing the diplomat by the neck and shoulders, the officer’s response to the Ambassador stepping between the barricades appears to have been inappropriate,” Eustace said.

He added that the NDP, as a responsible political party of government, will not want to compromise the integrity and inviolability of Vincentian diplomats and representatives and missions abroad and that they adhered to the spirit of the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations which defined the norms and reciprocal nature of these relations between states.

“We also hold the host nations of our missions and embassies to the same vigorous adherence to the Vienna Convention,” said Eustace.

He added that they also expected a high level of pragmatism, understanding and co-operation on the part of local representatives which is consistent with our position and aspirations as a small developing country whose people are our greatest resource and full reciprocity on the part of host nations.

Eustace made the point however, that there was some irony involved in the matter that the government was criticizing the reported assault of a Vincentian diplomat by foreign police officers, when it has sanctioned the battery and assault of elected parliamentarians by local police officers on Vincentian soil on March 3, 2011.

He said that he recalled the extent to which the Area Representative for West Kingstown, Daniel Cummings and other members of the Opposition and his own daughter, whom he said was kicked, was brutalized by police officers.

“The prime minister never called in any of those occasions, he said, adding that he regarded the telephone call from the Prime Minister as “self serving”.

The Leader of the Opposition also contended that the government also reinstated three police officers following their conviction for brutalizing a teenage boy.

“I therefore call on the Prime Minister and Government of St Vincent and the Grenadines to deal evenly with all instances of abuse of power and excessive force, keeping in the foreground at all times the best interest of all Vincentians, at home and in the Diaspora,” Eustace said. (DD)