Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace has called for the resignation of Communications Consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister, Elson Crick, who this week released on radio personal information about a victim of abuse.
“Elson Crick has attempted to strip Kate bare,” Eustace said of Crick’s treatment on radio of the woman.
The woman who has changed her legal name after being deported from Canada where she failed to obtain refugee status, identified herself as Kate as she told the opposition New Democratic Party’s “Conversation with Women” on Monday about her years of abuse, allegedly by members of her own family and an ex-boyfriend.
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The event was aimed at crafting an NDP administration’s policies on women’s affairs and domestic violence, the NDP said.
“The NDP respected Kate’s choice to disclose only her first name,” Eustace said, adding that the woman’s story was gut-wrenching and the abuse and pain she suffered was palpable to everyone who heard her account,” Eustace.
“She did not speak in a political capacity neither did she say anything which could be construed as political. Her only intention, she said, was to give strength to other women, who feel disempowered, to tell their story and to find healing to build and rebuild their self-confidence and their lives,” he said in the statement issued on Friday.
Eustace said that since the conference, the NDP has learnt that
Kate was “vilified” on Wednesday on Star Radio, which is owned by the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP).
“In that programme, the host Elson Crick, a communications consultant in the prime minister’s office, revealed private details of Kate’s life, including her former and current full legal names, immigration history, dates of travel and passport number,” Eustace said.
“We, as a party are appalled by this despicable act and we consider it a grave interference with Kate’s privacy and a gross breach of that right which is conferred on every citizen under Article 12 the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights,” Eustace said.
Article 12 says, “No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.”
“We also strongly feel that the said action is tantamount to torture and persecution, in breach of Article 5 and 13 respectively,” Eustace further said of the UN human rights charter.
Article 5 says, “No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”, while Article 13 says, “Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.”
Eustace noted that the Vincentian Constitution protects citizens from degrading treatment, and guarantees their freedom of association.
“By his actions, Communications Consultant in the Office of the Prime Minister Mr. Crick has breached Kate’s fundamental human rights,” he said.
“We say, therefore, that it matters not the capacity in which Mr. Crick was acting when he violated the privacy of a Vincentian woman whose person had been violated so many times before. Whether or not he acted as communications consultant to the Prime Minister or as host of ULP’s radio programming, we call upon Dr. Ralph Gonsalves both as prime minister and president of the ULP to remove Mr. Crick from public office and ULP radio programming with immediate effect, and publicly condemn his actions.
“Any failure to take decisive action on this matter is to do as Caribbean Women’s Rights activist Dr. Peggy Antrobus observed in the treatment of Officer Michelle Andrews.
“Dr Antrobus stated: ‘People are afraid to come forward. The message he’s sending is, ‘We will discredit you’,” Eustace said.
Andrews, a former member of Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves’ security detail, had accused him of sexually assaulting her, and was named by Gonsalves at a press conference in which he denied the allegations, which were later thrown out of court for lack of evidence.
Eustace said the NDP is “committed to fostering an environment that is conducive to the empowerment of women in our society and as such we condemn totally this action by Elson Crick. We refuse to believe that such behaviour, which is completely unacceptable in other parts of the Caribbean and the World, is acceptable in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Eustace said.
“We, therefore, call for his immediate removal from the Office of the Prime Minister, his role of communications consultant and as host of ULP radio programming. We also demand a thorough investigation, particularly into how Kate’s immigration details/history came to be in the hands of Mr. Crick. As a consequence also, we demand that all those who breached her rights and compromised her privacy and security (and by extension the security of the country) are held to account.
We are a nation of laws and it is imperative that the rule of law is adhered to at all times. All citizens must feel safe and secure in our country.
“Vincentians deserve better,” Eustace said.
Crick told I-Witness News on Saturday that while he has seen on Facebook calls for his resignation he has not seen Eustace’s statement.
“Officially, I haven’t seen the press release; I can’t respond to it,” Crick said.
“I am not sure what he wants me to resign over. I did my research and got the information. As far as I am concerned, the information is accurate. My sources are not of important to Mr. Eustace,” the communications specialist said.