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Camillo acted with dignity and restraint

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Editor: The recent unlawful arrest, detention, assault and battery of St. Vincent and the Grenadines’ Permanent Representative to the United Nations Ambassador Camillo Gonsalves by a police officer of the New York Police Department (NYPD) in the lobby of this country’s diplomatic premises all raise several important questions on which there has been much commentary.{{more}}

One issue which stands out is the dignity, restraint, and impeccable conduct of our Ambassador in a most testing situation. Ambassador Gonsalves’ clear, unambiguous forthright statement on the matter has been commended by his ambassadorial colleagues at the United Nations, from CARICOM and elsewhere internationally. There has been an outpouring of solidarity and support for Camillo and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Important principles are at stake: Territorial integrity of diplomatic premises and their inviolability; the independence and sovereignty of nations, however small; the inviolability of diplomatic premises and the persons of Ambassadors; the obligations of the host nation of the United Nations, the USA; and the protection of all persons from illegal arrest, detention, assault and battery, especially at the hands of law enforcement officers.

The response of the NYPD as relayed through the international media has been prevaricating and contradictory. Published reports attributed to the NYPD have variously alleged that Camillo was arrested for “disorderly conduct” and contradictorily that he was never arrested. Incidentally, the NYPD has yet to come up with a credible bundle of facts as to what constitutes “disorderly conduct”. The dissembling contained in the NYPD reports isoccasioned by their knowledge that there were eye-witnesses supportive of Camillo and, importantly, a videotape from the surveillance cameras to verify the truth of Camillo’s factual statement. Moreover, the NYPD must be worried about “Miranda Rights” issues arising from the police officer’s unlawful conduct.

Meanwhile, the Government has acted professionally and in a focussed manner to defend this nation and its Ambassador through diplomatic and legal channels. It has correctly left the associated political issues, including that of possible “racial profiling” of Ambassador Gonsalves, to the wider political community, including non-governmental organisations and media commentators, who are outraged at the police officer’s conduct and the NYPD’s bluster.

It is most unfortunate that some political partisans against the ULP government cannot find it possible to rise above the pits of divisive, partisan local politics to embrace, in the interest of the national community, the high principles at stake, the exemplary conduct of our Ambassador, and the focussed, principled, and vigorous stance of the Government.

Generations yet to be born will one day applaud, too, the Ambassador’s dignified conduct and our Government’s principled response. Equally, they will denounce the folly of the anti-national partisans in the NDP. Do these people have no shame? Why are they continuously against their own country? Is it hunger or thirst for power at all costs?

Sincerely yours,
Hans King
Press Secretary
Office of the Prime Minister

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