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Findlay is the most molested woman in SVG – PR Campbell

Findlay is the most molested woman in SVG – PR Campbell

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Supervisor of Elections Sylvia Findlay is the most molested woman in St Vincent and the Grenadines today and the persons who are protesting outside her office are in breach of a number of laws under Section 11 of the Constitution of St Vincent and the Grenadines.

Prominent lawyer Parnel R Campbell QC made these declarations last Monday night, while speaking on his programme {{more}}on SVGTV ‘The Law and you,’ which he said was dedicated to Findlay. He also called on protestors to stop harassing her.

Campbell touched on the Constitution in order to highlight what he considers to be an abuse of the right to freedom of assembly and association by New Democratic Party (NDP) supporters, who are protesting the outcome of the December 9 General Elections.

Campbell noted that the constitution starts with the general principal of a right, then goes on to describe circumstances in which that right can be regulated for the protection of the rights of other persons.

“No right is absolute; in a society practically everyone has rights, but in order to allow persons to enjoy their rights, the law has to regulate the enjoyment by other persons of their rights.”

He said that it is important to note that when one talks about rights, you can’t talk about your rights to the exclusion of the rights of other persons.

“We all have rights, but in order for all of us to enjoy our rights, we have to subject ourselves to certain restraints. Some cases the law does not leave it up to us, but specifies the extent which we are allowed to go to enjoy your rights when they begin to infringe on the rights of others,” said Campbell, who noted that to say people have a right to protest is fine, but if that protest unjustifiably interferes with the rights of somebody else, the law strikes a balance.

“I am convinced that the lady (Findlay) is subject to the violation of her rights every day a protest takes place outside her office that involves the making of noise, the chanting of insults to her. If persons go in front to protest peacefully, that is a different story, so the law draws a distinction between peaceful protest and rowdy protest, if that rowdy protest interferes with other people.

“How can Miss Findlay and her staff function in the light of drumming right outside morning and noon? This is where the criminal code comes in,” explained Campbell.

He noted that Section 67 of the Criminal Code attempts to regulate the enjoyment of the freedom of assembly and association in such a way as to minimize the infringement of peoples’ rights.

Section 67, under the heading, ‘Unlawful Assembly’ subsection (1), says “when three or more persons assemble with intent to commit an offense or being assembled with the intent to carry out some common purpose conduct themselves in such a manner as to cause persons in the neighbourhood reasonably to fear that the persons so assembled will commit a breach of the peace or will by such assembly needlessly and without reasonable occasion provoke other persons to commit a breach of the peace they are guilty of an unlawful assembly. It is immaterial that the original assembling was lawful, if being assembled they conduct themselves with a common purpose in such manner as aforesaid.”

Subsection (2) states, “any person which takes part in an unlawful assembly is guilty of an offence and liable to imprisonment of one year”.

Said Campbell, “What this is saying is that if persons assemble to protest, they well may be in their right, but if the conduct of those at that protest and during that protest causes persons in the neighbourhood to reasonably fear that the persons so assembled will commit a breach of the peace, or will by such assembly needlessly and without reasonable occasion provoke other persons to commit a breach of the peace, they are guilty of an unlawful assembly.”

The learned attorney stressed that everything depends on what happens during the protest; so, for persons to say we have a right to protest is fine, “but you don’t have a right to indulge in behaviour that goes overboard.”

He said that noise on Bay Street created by protesters also breaches the rights of persons in offices within sound of what is going on.

Campbell noted that he is no stranger to protest, having been involved in demonstrations in Canada between 1965 and 1968 against the Vietnam war and again at the University of the West Indies in Barbados and in London against apartheid and here against various bills.

“…but those were demonstrations against policies or against actions. The present situation against the election results, it is peculiar situation because whether elections are regular or irregular is a question of law,” said Campbell.

He noted that persons are alleging that the elections were stolen, but that is a matter of law and not opinion and it has been placed before the court and the court will in due course rule.

“There is nothing that the supervisor of elections can do in the present circumstances about the results. When you demonstrate, you are trying to bring pressure. So, what is the pressure on her to do or not to do? It is out of her hands, so to keep besetting the lady, day after day, to me is an abuse of the lady, its molestation, its harassment,” stressed Campbell.

He added that Findlay is a decent law-abiding woman in a situation where there is nothing she can do about the grievance that persons are protesting about, as the matter is before the court.

He said that a number of persons who are involved in the harassment of the supervisor of elections were recently in another forum fighting for the liberation and the rights of women and now have turned around and have involved themselves in harassing and molesting Findlay for something she can do nothing about.

“She has rights, to go about her job without being molested and not bombarded by sounds in her office and not being hissed at by people,” said the Queen’s Counsel, who added also that persons are casting aspersions on the supervisor’s character by saying she is involved in what they are alleging went wrong during the elections in December.

“She is a decent Christian woman, so why harass her? You have strength for her, but you don’t have strength for somebody else?” asked Campbell, who issued an apology on behalf of persons who he said are unjustifiably abusing Findlay.

He also opined that Findlay is the most molested woman in St Vincent and the Grenadines today.

“Mrs Findlay-Scrubb has been subjected to an ongoing barrage of molestation by the very people who are supposed to be in the forefront in the struggle against the molestation of women.

“What makes Mrs Findlay-Scrubb’s situation so unbearable is that the goodly lady is clearly not responsible for what has triggered the protest and what is even more disturbing is that those who are protesting have already placed the subject matter of the process before the court and ought to therefore let the court procedure run its course,” said Campbell. (LC)

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