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Bar Association deplores ‘unlawful’ arrest of senator

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Fri July 19, 2013

The St Vincent and the Grenadines Bar Association says it deplores the recent “unlawful” arrest of Senator Vynnette Frederick and “the horrific and cruel manner in which it was carried out.”{{more}}

The Bar Association is also warning residents that Frederick’s arrest is a “clear threat to the rest of the population and a signal that anyone could be treated likewise.”

In a statement issued Wednesday, the Bar Association said “in particular, the Bar Association is deeply troubled that Senator Frederick’s arrest without a warrant, satisfied none of the grounds on which an arrest can be made without a warrant as set out in section 30 of the Criminal Procedure Code CAP 171, Laws of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Revised Edition 2009. The arrest was therefore unlawful.”

Frederick, a member of the Utter Bars of SVG and Trinidad and Tobago, was arrested on July 11, while having lunch, a few hours after six criminal charges she faced in court had been dismissed.

She now has nine new charges to answer, six of which are similar to those dismissed, except that they now have particulars. Frederick, who is now on station bail, pleaded not guilty to the charges on July 12, when she appeared at the Family Court.

She will appear at the Mesopotamia Magistrate’s Court on July 31, when a date for the hearing of the matter will be set.

“The Bar Association also condemns the taking of our Member into custody by force. The manner in which the eight police officers including three of the SSU, carried out Senator Frederick’s arrest was in the style reserved for hardened and habitual criminals or someone who had committed a serious offence. Yet, after her arrest, she was granted station bail. It is important for the public to know that ‘station bail’ is granted to persons who are alleged to have committed minor offences,” the statement said.

“The inescapable conclusion the Bar Association draws from the brutal manner in which Sen. Frederick was taken into custody was calculated to embarrass and humiliate her as a Member of the Bar and a Senator in the House of Assembly. It would not be unreasonable to say that the exercise was actuated by motives other than, and therefore inconsistent with, the maintenance of law and order. In this regard the Bar Association agrees completely with the last sentence of the editorial of the SEARCHLIGHT newspaper of Tuesday 16th July 2013 when it said ‘It seems as though the sole intention of last Thursday’s fiasco was to humiliate the young woman, which makes one wonder, is she being prosecuted or persecuted?’

“We believe that the arrest of any citizen must be based on the contravention of state laws and even then basic courtesies, such as dignity of person and respect for modern norms of decency must be always observed. The treatment of Sen. Frederick fell well below these standards,” the statement said.

According to the release, “it still behoves Dr. The Honourable Ralph Gonsalves, in his capacity as Minister of National Security, Mrs Judith Jones-Morgan, the Attorney General, Mr Colin Williams the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Commissioner of Police Mr Keith Miller to denounce, whether actually or constructively, such disregard for Sen. Frederick’s constitutionally enshrined right to personal liberty and protection of her person.”

The Bar Association called on “all persons and institutions that love liberty and the rule of law,” including the Christian Council, the St Vincent and the Grenadines Chamber of Commerce, the Trinidad and Tobago Bar Association, the OECS Bar Association, sister Caricom Bar Associations, the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, the Commonwealth Bar Association, the American Bar Association, and the United Nations Human Rights Association to raise their voices in protest against the actions of the Police for the events of July 11.

“In the context of our member’s arrest the Bar Association feels obliged to warn the citizens of St Vincent and the Grenadines and non-citizens resident here: The disregard for and violation of Vynnette Frederick’s constitutional rights as citizen, lawyer and Senator is a clear threat to the rest of the population and a signal that anyone could be treated likewise. For, if due process and civility are not afforded to Sen. Frederick how therefore can Vincentians in general feel protected from abuse by the instruments of the state?”

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