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Beware of wolves in sheep clothing!



Editor: The introduction of a Bill in Parliament, at

its last sitting, to eliminate the Police and Criminal Evidence Act (PACE) is quite simply a serious attack on the civil rights and liberties of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. It is yet another effort of the ULP government to forcefully subject Vincentians to its ridiculous, derisive and inhumane policies.

We have seen where Vincentians have been contemptuously referred to as vagabonds, herd people, untutored, snatty-nosed, thieves, uneducated and manicou. Are there other disparaging terms to be added to this list?{{more}}

• Is this a step to strip Vincentians of their basic human rights, privileges and dignity?

• Is this a prelude to St.Vincent and the Grenadines becoming a totalitarian state?

• Is this the reason why we seem to be openly worshipping dictators such as Chavez and Castro?

• Is this a sign to rule by decree?

• Are we to expect that the next bill would be one focused on curtailing our “Freedom of Speech”?

In my opinion, the cornerstone of a democracy is the enactment of laws to protect citizens. But, employing the courts to intimidate people, amounts to nothing short of contempt for our legal and judicial system. After all, launching lawsuits has been previously employed as a technique to silence people because it tends to create fear and ultimately thwart citizens from expressing their opinions. Using the parliamentary system, in this way, makes a mockery of it.

Kenny Anthony, the discredited former Prime Minister of St. Lucia, was the latest to have experienced a rude awakening. Is Ralph next?

If we allow fear to govern our lives, then we would be subjected to, and governed by, the ad hoc practices of the wicked. Thank goodness those before us, like Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela, were not swayed by fear or, for that matter, lawsuits and imprisonment.

In developed countries such as Canada, United States and England, laws are constantly fine-tuned to protect the civil rights and liberties of their citizens. These rights ensure that the accused is presumed innocent until found guilty in a court of law. In other words, these laws guarantee that the rights of the accused are respected at all times. In so doing, the accused should not be tortured while in police custody, or oppressed if charged with an offence.

Could the removal of PACE from the law books of St. Vincent and the Grenadines give carte blanche power to the police force, which might just contain others like the one recently arrested and charged with a double murder. This is scary and indeed regrettable.

Are we witnessing an attempt to empower certain elements of the police force, to make them ruthless and more vicious and contemptuous? Or, is this a real attempt to create a police state? Was it not Dr. Gonsalves who popularized the concept of the two-legged rats after a cocaine trial?

It is well known that the majority of our police are praiseworthy and that they face a rather difficult task to maintain law and order and protect the society. As such, they are from time to time subjected to serious danger. Nevertheless, their testimony is more easily believed in a Court of law than do the accused; and, since police are from the same society with criminal elements, then it is quite possible that the police force could contain some of the bad elements of our society. These are the ones that might abuse their power and be dangerous to citizens, especially the innocent, if firm laws and codes of conduct are not present to restrict them and protect the innocent. Therefore, removing laws that are essential to protect the rights of its citizens could amount to varying degrees of lawlessness within our country.

In dictatorships, these fundamental rights are absent. Citizens can be imprisoned for years without ever having a hearing; they can be subjected to the whims of the dictator and be tortured by police who are only accountable to their ‘maximum leader’, the dictator. In a sense, those countries operate as a police state where “presuming the accused to be guilty” is the order of the day. Such countries usually enforce a communist doctrine.

Vincentians, beware of wolves in sheep clothing! Was it not the calypsonian, “The Man Age”, who warned us of “Ralph in sheep clothing”?

The chance of us becoming another Cuba is not farfetched if we allow Ralph to continue his ‘reign of power’. Do not be tricked again into believing that the current ULP is your beloved Labour Party.

The evidence, to the contrary, is clear and abundant.

Larry Daisley