By Concerned Vincentian Citizen

Permit me to get straight to the point. The article “Police to enforce COVID-19 ‘guidelines“, published on iWitness News on April 10, 2020, has raised some concerns in my mind with respect to public law in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines.

The article, in essence, stated that the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force  (RSVGPF) intends to ensure adherence to the COVID-19 protocols and guidelines over the Easter weekend; that there are no “mass gatherings of persons on beaches, churches or other social events viz a viz – river cooks, picnics, etc…” among other things.

Certainly, it is sound advice and recommendation for everyone to practise social distancing. More importantly, those who are on mandatory quarantine and isolation ought to respect the protocols and guidelines concerning such, in the interest of public health and safety. That being made crystal clear, I do have some questions I would like the RSVGPF or those who are knowledgeable about public law in St. Vincent and the Grenadines to address.

  1. Are these “COVID-19 protocols and guidelines” legally enforceable laws? If not, in what way does the RSVGPF really intend to ensure “adherence” through their patrols over the Easter weekend?
  2. It is an effective strategy to close all sites operated and managed by the National Parks, Rivers and Beaches Authority over the Easter weekend in an effort to reduce social gatherings, but will it be an offence enforceable by the RSVGPF for those who go to parks, rivers and beaches which fall outside such the management of the National Authority?
  3. On what legal authority will the Police rely in order to ensure that there are “no boat rides and/or excursions” given that SVG is not presently under a state of emergency? (at least as far as I know)
  4. Is it that there is some Statute that gives the RSVGPF legal authority to invent legally enforceable “protocols and guidelines” as they see fit under circumstances like the Corona virus pandemic despite a state of emergency not having been declared?

While Dr. Simone Keizer-Beache in the aforementioned article merely encourages social distancing (which is wise), the Police appears to want to legally enforce that encouragement, which should worry all Vincentians, whether or not you’re inclined to stay at home all weekend or go the beach or river to escape the boredom of home.

This concerns me deeply because it is my OPINION and OBSERVATION that the RSVGPF seems to have a tendency to act beyond the scope of their legal authority whenever the existing legal mechanisms do not afford them the right to take action.

Of course, many of these instances rarely go before the court, so, they never become an issue, but what can you do if eight armed police officers of the Rapid Response Unit come to the beach where you are relaxing with your family and tell you to leave immediately?

Is that their strategy for ensuring “adherence”? Let’s not wait until it’s our son, daughter, uncle, aunt, cousin, parent or close friend who falls victim to the Police acting ultra vires before we take interest in the questions asked above.

The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

8 replies on “SVG police acting outside law amidst COVID-19?”

  1. Clayton Davis says:

    It’s very sad that at this time such an article is published. The focus here should be encouraging persons to stay at home rather than questioning the authority of the police. Social distancing is the only method that seems to be working right now. The price of staying alive right now might be a small forfeiture of one’s freedom of assembly. (A very small price). Please remember the poor Healthcare Workers whose lives are at risk. Look at how many have died attending to people who care more about picnics than Social Distances. St. Vincent healthcare system is not the best. People, please stay at home and Officers do what you have to do.

    1. Allan Oliver says:

      Two quick questions.
      1.Do you actually think that at this time it is sad that freedom of the press still exist?
      2.Am i wrong to believe that you meant “Officers do what you have to do that’s within the LAW”?

  2. The points that are being made in the above article are well made. I hope the people of SVG will follow the advice of the Authorities and stay home, so the police will not have to act ultra Vires to the law.

  3. It still is wrong to do an illegal thing for a good reason. The law must never be compromised for any reason

  4. Hashtag Prince says:

    This will cost the PM his government! !!!!!

    Ain’t seeing no ‘labour love’ here!

    “Labour Love” has been lost, it has gone down the hill on a banana leaf!

  5. Fidus Achates says:

    These are decisive questions and very much relevant.But who is policing the police ?When anything goes with them.The police themselves need educating and training especially how to deal with these guidelines.Let’s pray that the public adheres to the Covid-19 guidelines and no excessive force needed.

  6. Here in the Carolinas in America has been hard on a lot of us. Our jobs have closed and we are told to stay indoors.. This really isn’t the time to think ofr a beach picnic for a large group but for a family of less than ten I fully sympathize. My friend from Layou called this morning and I saw that beautiful ocean. My heart goes out to all of you there.

  7. After reading the article and the comments along with watching the corporate media and independent voices it is obvious that the world is undergoing the greatest transition in human history. I hope no one faults the author of the article for merely asking questions. Freedoms such as “freedom of assembly” took humanity thousands of years to develop. We should not rush to throw them away based on this crisis beginning a few months ago. We all know how the USA has suspended the US Constitution with the “Patriot” Act, which is the LEAST patriotic law in US History. Since 9/11 we have been losing so much of what humanity has gained in the past thousands of years. Should we continue? Many of us could write a dissertation on the points brought up in this article but none of us should so easily give-in to having our rights taken away. Can Government take care of you and keep you safe? Are they always right? What should thier responsibility be and what should the individual and Private Sector’s responsibility be?

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