Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

The main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has suggested that some police officers are taking the law into their own hands in an attempt to solve crime in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

The party also suggested that the errant police officers may be spurred on to be abusive to suspects and accused persons because of the statement by Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves that police officers are not obliged to recite the Beatitudes when they confront hardened criminals.

The party said that rather than this “militaristic” approach to crime fighting it was proposing a “Smart on Crime” strategy.

The party, in a statement this week said a “collaborative and united national effort can be the only way forward to effectively combat the national crisis of crime and violence in SVG”.

The party noted last Saturday night’s shooting in Paul’s Avenue that left one dead and three injured, taking this year’s homicide count to 25.

“As more crimes are committed and the resources and expertise of the police are stretched, it would appear that members of that organisation are resorting to extrajudicial punishment to garner information from suspects.

“We do hope, however, that this is not as a result of the Minister of National Security’s pronouncement that the police are not to recite the Beatitudes to suspects.”

The NDP said that as it continues to call on the police to expedite investigations and the arrest of offenders, it would appear that the police are “caught up in their own crisis, which, if not already doing so, can distract them from their mission, as reports assail the media of extrajudicial punishment by the police in general.

“We have had reports in the past of police beatings and general abuse to the point where accused persons were hospitalised and where police officers were convicted in a court of law.”

The party said that in one incident, much to the public’s dismay, convicted officers were returned to duty as police officers.

“Now, there are accusations being levelled at the [acting] Commissioner of Police, the very head of the service, for personally beating an accused with a baton causing him severe injuries.”

Suspended Police Constable Ettian Charles, who was charged in July 2017 with burglarising the Postal Corporation, made the accusations last month.

Charles was last month charged with robbery, firearm possession and murder.

Suspended police officer, Ettian Charles, has alleged that acting Commissioner of Police Colin John and other officers beat him while he was in custody. (iWN photo)

The NDP said:

“Extrajudicial punishment is against the law in St Vincent and the Grenadines and the New Democratic Party condemns any and all such actions, unreservedly.”

The party said the police “cannot, in their frustration over the increasing crime rate and their apparent inability to contain it, resort to beating and abusing the very public they are sworn to protect.

“This is a country of laws and no one individual can be judge, jury and executioner.”

The party further noted that the police chief has been accused of sexually assaulting a junior member of the force — a claim that he has denied, saying that he has acted professionally.

“While the NDP holds that each person is innocent until proven guilty, we nonetheless question the fact that while the Commissioner is being investigated he remains in office.

“It is the right thing to conduct an investigation into the accusation levelled, however, justice must not only be done it must seem to be done and while the Commissioner may undoubtedly be a man of integrity, it says little of him and the Ministry of National Security, if he remains in office during this investigation.”

The NDP said that what is also worrying is that the Speaker of the House of Assembly, Jomo Thomas, a lawyer and former senator for Gonsalves’ Unity Labour Party administration, in his weekly newspaper column, “asserted to the possibility of extrajudicial killings”.

House Speaker Jomo Thoms during. (iWN file photo)

The NDP said:

“To date, the public is yet to know if Mr. Thomas was asked to produce the evidence to support this accusation and further if an investigation was launched to determine the veracity of that accusation. Contrary to established standards, the Minister of National Security and the Commissioner of Police have not made a public statement with regards to such an egregious statement that has the potential to negatively impact this country’s international standing.

“The reality today is that the Minister of National Security is yet to come to terms with the fact that his disrespectful dismissal of the Vincentian people’s fears only serves to worsen those fears and feed the crisis that already exists. He has failed to produce the promised war on crime and the causes of crime, just as he has failed to introduce integrity legislation, to say nothing of the creation of a consultative democracy.”

The NDP said it is clear that Gonsalves and the ULP have lost touch with the reality of the Vincentian people’s lives “and cannot adequately provide the governance needed to take us out of this crisis.”

Prime Minister and Minister of National Security, Ralph Gonsalves. (iWN file photo)

The party said as crime and violence “continue to spiral out of control under the apparent indifference” of Gonsalves, the NDP is proposing a “Smart on Crime” strategy, saying that crime cannot be policed or incarcerated away.

“We have expressed our willingness to work with the government and other organisations to address the problem, and we submit that a “Smart on Crime” approach, which requires a collaborative and united national effort can be the only way forward to effectively combat the national crisis of crime and violence in SVG.

“The present militaristic approach has failed, and it continues to alienate the police from the very citizens they have sworn to protect,” the NDP said.

It said that evidence suggests that the “militaristic strategy” has already “created a climate in which some individuals and communities are as much afraid of the police as they are of the criminals.

“‘Smart on Crime’ will see the police applying research and best practices in developing appropriate crime fighting and prevention strategies and leading a crime prevention coalition which will include all sectors of society; drawing on the resources of civil society, communities and the business sector as they become integrated into a national crime prevention and crime fighting partnership to create a better SVG for all.”

The NDP again implored anyone with information that might assist the police in their investigations to provide it to the police.

“We call on the police to redouble their efforts to bring the perpetrators to justice, and resolve other unsolved violent crimes in our country, and to respect and protect the rights of Vincentians as they do so.

“We call on the Vincentian people to be strong and resolute in this time of crisis, hold fast to your foundational Christian beliefs; do not lose hope in humanity and yourselves as a people. Remember there is always a calm after the storm,” the party said.

Speaking in parliament on Thursday, Gonsalves said the NDP must choose between criminals and peace-loving residents of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

7 replies on “PM’s ‘Beatitudes’ statement encourages police excesses — NDP”

  1. Remember who was the author of the saying “we will hunt them down until they exist no more” also he that led the abolishment of the PACE Act in SVG. Both actions as a matter of fact gave encouragement to police brutality.

  2. The Prime Minister was quite correct in stating that police officers are not obliged to recite the Beatitudes when they confront hardened criminals.

    This is because these hardened criminals know nothing about the Beatitudes; indeed, they have chosen to practice the opposite of the Beatitudes (http://www2.connectseward.org/chu/stv/beatitudes.htm).

    For example, the first of the eight Beatitudes recited by Jesus Christ in His Sermon on the Mount is: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Instead, these hardened criminals believe that: “Dammed are the poor, for theirs is the kingdom of hell.”

    Equally important is the need to ask why we even need police to hunt down and punish these hardened criminals. The answer lies in the seventh Beatitude which says: “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.”

    Who are these peacemakers? According to the teachings of Jesus Christ, they were certainly not the Roman legions who controlled the population and enforced the laws at the time that he spoke these words in the occupied land of the Jews.

    Instead, they were the families, nieghbours, friends, and Jewish spiritual advisors among which these hardened criminals lived. Since too many of these people are rearing and upholding the hardened criminals rather than controling or punishing them using a various of sanctions like showing a good example, rebuking them, marginalizing them, ostracizing them or physically punishing them at home or in their communities, they have given leave to the police to use whatever means necessary — legal or extra-legal — to control and punish their criminal behaviour.

    Hardened criminals are not created out of whole cloth: they are created and nurtured by familes, neighbours, and communities.

    Let is not blame the police or the politicians for our own indifference to the teachings of the Beatitudes.

    1. You cannot say that it is important to set a good example and then turn around and say it is fine when the police go beyond the law and beat and do extrajudicial things to “get the criminals” You contradict yourself and in doing so you approve the police being an example of lawlessness for the populace to follow. That nurtures crime, the opposite of stopping it.

  3. gov and the police are under one executive branch and should support each other ……if the shoes was on Fridays foot it would be a different story .

  4. “However, justice must not only be done it must seem to be done” What does this have to do with conducting a proper investigation, gathering evidence to support a case and prosecuting the alleged perpetrators in a fair trial? As far as I can see some people in SVG just want a mantra that sounds good to rally behind and they will blindly follow without question. Apparently, we are so poorly educated that we always need someone to tell us what to do, We are incapable of deductive reasoning or critical thinking and we can’t make up our own minds about anything. If the integrity of the judiciary was above reproach then there would be no need to distrust it. As it stands, it seems to me that the Judiciary, the Police and the Government cannot be trusted hence those kinds of statements. I would remind you all that a fact is a fact and a fact is something real, it has little to do with the appearance of being a fact. It has to do with that which is proven to be real and not what appears to be real, like a mirage.
    This pseudo-abstract cow-shit statements using biblical passages are nothing but a cop out and a play on the weakness of the people, the Bible.
    The police are sometimes heavy-handed in carrying out arrests, this happens every where but, abusing a suspect in custody is clearly not proper practice and is wrong.
    In SVG police brutality has become so common that when people shout police brutality everyone believes that it is so and in some cases it is. But, due process should be the principle of the rule in the law.
    When are we going to stop behaving like a fucking Banana Republic or some pseudo-African dictatorship, where those in power are willing to retain it at the cost of the destruction of innocent lives? People’s lives seem to be of little or no value in the current SVG.
    In the meantime that this is being perpetually debated by idiots and self-serving individuals, the people continue to suffer for the next 72 years. We forget that only a few students out of thousands have gotten scholarships or bursaries. We forget the benefactors are the children of prominent individuals and only a few lucky “commoners”. We forget that only a privileged few can afford anything, like own a car. In the meantime, things only have to appear as being such without actually being so. And, we accept that. Foei!

    1. They recite them every morning during their daily prayers as part of their sworn duty to fulfill 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 which they also recite, each and every officer, man and woman, Constable and Commissioner:

      “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”

      Urlan Alexander, you are not a man of God, if your doubt this.

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