St. Vincent and the Grenadines Christian Council National Monitoring and Consultative Mechanism (Nmcm) Code Of Ethical Political Conduct 2020 General Election
WHEREAS the Peoples of the Islands of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, who are known as Vincentians-
- have affirmed that the Nation is founded on the belief in the supremacy of God and the freedom and dignity of man;
- desire that their society be so ordered as to express their recognition of the principles of democracy, free institutions, social justice and equality before the law;
- realize that the maintenance of human dignity presupposes safeguarding the rights of privacy of family life, of property and the fostering of the pursuit of just economic rewards for labour;
- desire that their Constitution should enshrine the above-mentioned freedoms, principles and ideals;
Fundamental Rights and Freedoms
Where every person in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is entitled to the fundamental rights and freedoms, that is to say, the right, whatever his race, place of origin, political opinions, colour, creed or sex, but subject to respect for the rights and freedoms of others and for the public interest, to each and all of the following, namely-
- life, liberty, security of the person and the protection of the law;
- freedom of conscience, of expressions and of assembly and association: and
- protection for the privacy of his home and other property and from deprivation of property without compensation,
- Have asserted that forgiveness and reconciliation are integral to nation building: Whereas
- The principles and beliefs enshrined in our constitution are best protected through the democratic process underpinned by fairness, the rule of law, freedom to express divergent opinions, equality of access to opportunities and through adherence to constitutional provisions that stipulate the rights and responsibilities of the citizen.
- It is the desire of the Undersigned persons drawn from civil society organizations throughout St. Vincent and the Grenadines to encourage Political Parties to endorse the principles and codes set out in the Code of Political Conduct for the common good of the People and in the national interest of St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
- The political parties and their candidates who are signatories hereto (respectively the ‘Parties’ and ‘Candidates’) have agreed to pledge themselves to the Code of Ethical Political Conduct contained below
This Code of Ethical Political Conduct is intended to achieve the following objectives:
- Fostering of democracy through peaceful, free and fair elections conducted at regular intervals in which voters are allowed to cast their ballots freely, without interference, fear, intimidation or bribery.
- Promotion of respect for human rights, the pursuit of civil and political liberties, the tolerance of divergent opinions, full and active participation of all in the political process.
- Encouraging participation in the electoral process by the People and to uphold their right to make political choices.
- Ensuring an election process free from intimidation and violence.
NOW THEREFORE it is hereby agreed and declared by the Parties and their Candidates as follows:
- Candidates will maintain the highest moral principles in keeping with Christian Ethics during the campaign, the elections, and post-election period.
- Candidates will address themselves to issues and principles dealing with national growth, development and the real concerns of the people.
- Candidates will maintain the highest moral principles and ethical standards with respect to their conduct during the campaign, the elections and the post-election period.
- Candidates will promote and enforce respect, tolerance, harmony and peace amongst their supporters and the general public during the campaign, the elections and in the post-election period and will also be positive role models.
- Chairpersons of meetings shall appeal for peaceful behaviour at all times.
- Candidates will not say or do anything to incite, encourage or foster hatred, resentment or any form of violence, but rather will do everything to promote tolerance, harmony, and peace.
- Candidates will not engage, recruit, or deploy any individual(s) for the purpose of violence, intimidation or harassment, including intimidation by congregating in groups wearing similar identifiable colours at or near to election stations on election day;
- Candidates should avoid making grandiose promises, which they have no intention to pursue or cannot be kept.
- Candidates will not use half-truths, lies or innuendoes to gain political advantage.
- In the interest of transparency and for the credibility of the process, Candidates will not use bribes or gifts- giving to gain political advantage.
- Candidates will avoid the misuse or abuse of race, religion, country of origin, or class to mobilize support or to vilify any individual, family or section of the society.
- Candidates will not engage directly or indirectly in character assassination.
- Candidates and supporters will respect the colours or acronyms of all parties;
- Candidates will not use or permit the use of State resources for political campaigns or political advantage.
- Candidates will not threaten or cause any persons to be threatened with loss of their jobs if they support or refuse to support a political party.
- There shall be no organised and advertised motorcades.
- Candidates will take deliberate steps to publicly disassociate themselves from criminal elements and criminal activity.
- Candidates will uphold the integrity of the electoral process.
- Candidates will ensure that their conduct is above reproach.
- All parties shall cooperate with the police in maintaining law and order.
- Where political meetings are held at roadsides, vehicles and pedestrians shall be allowed to pass freely.
- Each party in parliament shall have equal and fair free time on the National Broadcasting Corporation. The principle of equality shall also hold for other national electronic media, in so far as free access is concerned.
- Each party shall have equal and fair access to national or public venues for the holding of political meeting. Here the principle of equal access should inform the principle of first come first serve.
- When using social media platforms, political parties, candidates and their representatives should adhere to the Code of Ethical Political Conduct.
- Parties shall respect hours of church service and not disrupt public worship. In the spirit of this Code churches holding public meetings in times of Elections are encouraged to inform the Commissioner of Police of their intentions in order to avoid unnecessary clashes with planned political meetings.
- Political parties and their representatives shall not deface public buildings, walls, streets and structures. The rights of private property owners shall be respected.
- Posters may go on lampposts and other appropriate structures provided that no nails or staples or metallic objects are used to affix same.
(b) Political Parties shall publicly discourage the defacing or removal of their opponents’ election campaigning material.
- Adequate police security shall be provided by the Commissioner of Police for all public political meeting.
- The members of the NMCM shall meet with the Commissioner of Police from time to time.
- Political Party Leaders shall maintain an open line of communication with one another.
- Parties shall adhere to the letter and the spirit of the Representation of the People Act.
- Candidates shall take all reasonable steps to influence supporters and members of the public to abide by the Code of Political Conduct.
- The Christian Council along with the NMCM, shall monitor political meetings and ensure that the Code of Political Conduct is observed.
Chairpersons and Platform Speakers and other authorised Persons making public statements on behalf of Political Parties have the same responsibility as the Candidates in adhering to the Code of Political Conduct.
The St. Vincent and the Grenadines Christian Council and the National Monitoring and Consultative Mechanism (NMCM) are responsible for monitoring the Code, which includes the adherence to the letter and spirit of the Representation of the People Act. Although this Code is not a legislative instrument it is expected that all signatories, candidates and the parties they represent shall scrupulously adhere to it since political leaders have signed. The public is invited to register objections to any breach of the Code and report to the Council and the NMCM accordingly.
Signed this 16th Day of October 2020
Dr. the Honourable Ralph E. Gonsalves
Prime Minister and Leader of the Unity Labour Party
Dr. The Honourable Godwin Friday
Leader of the Opposition and Leader of the New Democratic Party
Reverend Adolf Davis
President, St. Vincent and the Grenadines Christian Council