The opposition has tabled a motion calling for Senator Ashelle Morgan to withdraw from Parliament, or be suspended, pending the outcome of the police investigation into the April 13 shooting of businessman Cornelius John.
Leader of the Opposition Godwin Friday is expected to move the motion when Parliament meets on Tuesday.
The motion is seconded by MP for the Southern Grenadines, Terrance Ollivierre.
Friday read the motion at a press conference on Wednesday, saying that the opposition wants as much exposure of the motion ahead of Tuesday’s meeting of the national assembly.
“This is a very serious matter for the parliament to consider because the matter that it addresses is one that affects the private rights of the individuals who are involved, but, more than that, it affects the administration of justice and respect for the rule of law,” the opposition leader said.
“It touches very deeply on these matters and so we have to be, as a society, concerned about them and use whatever lever we have at our disposal to raise them, debate them, to bring light, and shine light upon them so that a just resolution can be achieved.”
Morgan, a lawyer, who is also deputy speaker of the House of Assembly, has been declared a person of interest in the shooting of John, 60, at his home.
Assistant Director of Public Persecution, Karim Nelson, is also a person of interest in the case, but has gone on leave, pending the outcome of the investigation.
Police have not disclosed the identity of a third person said to have been present when the shooting took place.
Friday told the press conference that the opposition would seek to have the motion debated in the parliament.
“You know, historically, this present administration has basically shut down anything that the members of the opposition have brought to the house,” he said.
“Most famously, the motion of no confidence that we brought to the house and was never able to debate,” Friday said, referring to the motion, which was tabled in January 2018.
“Nevertheless, it is our duty to use, as I said, whatever means we have at our disposal to be able to address matters that are of deep and abiding public concern to ensure that, in this particular case, the full investigation is completed and the administration of justice takes its true course and then, overall, confidence in the criminal justice system and adherence to the rule of law is restored and restored and fostered in St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” Friday said.
“Without these things, our rights are not protected, democracy cannot thrive and St. Vincent and the Grenadines will be a country where there is rule, not of law, but of men and women in power. This is not how our country was founded, it is not how our country should continue and all of us have a role to play in protecting the administration of justice and the rule of law and fostering democracy in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.”
The full text of the motion follows:
Motion on Conduct and Responsibility of Members
WHEREAS this Honourable House must seek always to promote the values and principles enshrined in our laws and democratic traditions and to foster respect for the rule of law;
AND WHEREAS each Member of Parliament is accountable to the public for their decisions and actions and must submit themselves to whatever scrutiny is appropriate to their office;
AND WHEREAS each Member of Parliament shall never undertake any action which would cause significant damage to the reputation and integrity of the House of Assembly as a whole, or of its Members generally;
AND WHEREAS it is alleged that Mr. Cornelius John was beaten and shot in his leg at his home in Diamond and that Senator and Deputy Speaker Ashelle Morgan was one of three assailants involved in the incident;
AND WHEREAS the Commissioner of Police has confirmed publicly that the matter is under police investigation and that Senator Morgan is a person of interest in the investigation;
AND WHEREAS this matter has stirred the conscience of our nation and caused many to question the administration of justice and the rule of law in St. Vincent and the Grenadines
AND WHEREAS Senator Morgan attended the meeting of the House of Assembly on May 11th, 2021 and the Leader of the Opposition with the full support of all members of the Opposition sought to invite Senator Morgan to withdraw from the sitting of the House or to have her suspended from the House pending the outcome of the police investigation into the serious allegations concerning her;
AND WHEREAS Senator Morgan was appointed by the Governor General acting on the advice of the Prime Minister and that appointment can be revoked by the Governor General acting on the advice of the Prime Minister;
AND WHEREAS Senator Morgan has not withdrawn from the House and her appointment as senator has not been revoked and thus, she remains a member of the House and the Deputy Speaker;
AND WHEREAS the Speaker of the House has a constitutional duty to interpret and apply the Standing Orders so as to facilitate debate and promote the decorum and dignity of the House;
BE IT RESOLVED that this Honourable House call on Senator and Deputy Speaker Ashelle Morgan to withdraw from the sittings of House pending the outcome of the police investigation into the serious allegations made against her in relation to the beating and shooting of Cornelius John;
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that should Senator Morgan fail or refuse to withdraw, she be suspended for the sittings of the House pending the outcome of the police investigation into the serious allegations made against her in relation to the beating and shooting of Cornelius John.
Dr. the Honourable Godwin Friday
The Honourable Terrance Ollivierre