Police have called on political parties and trade unions to “advise their members, supporters and the public at large” of the provisions within the Public Orders Act, noting also that “purportedly ‘peaceful protests’” have become less and less so.
In a statement, the Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) said that its “gazetted officers” met last Friday one day after protestors had staged a demonstrations outside the Parliament building injuring Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, who had to be flown to Barbados for medical treatment.
A 56-year-old vendor, Annamay Lewis, pleaded not guilty when she appeared in a Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on Monday charged with wounding Gonsalves. She will return to court on September 15.
The statement noted that the meeting had concluded with the observation that “purportedly “peaceful protests” have become less and less peaceful.
“The RSVGPF therefore take this opportunity to educate/remind the members of the three currently active Political Parties, Trade Unions and the public at large, of the Public Order Act…of the Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Revised Edition 2009”.
A copy of the legislation is attached to the statement and states “any person who in any public meeting wears uniform signifying his association with any political organisation or with the promotion of any political object is guilty of an offence”.
The legislation also provides for the Commissioner of Police, if he is “satisfied that the wearing of any such uniform on any ceremonial, anniversary or other special occasion will not be likely to involve risk of public disorder, he may, with the approval of the Governor-General, by order permit the wearing of such uniform on that occasion, either absolutely or subject to such conditions as may be specified in the order”.
It also notes that any person organising or concerned in organising any public meeting or public procession “shall notify the Commissioner of Police at least 24 hours before the time fixed for such meeting or procession of his intention to hold such meeting or procession and shall state the time and place proposed for such assembly and, in the case of a procession, the route proposed to be followed”
Under the law, “any person who commits an offence…is liable, on summary conviction, to a fine of EC$4,000 (One EC dollar=US$0.37 cents) and to imprisonment for six months and, on conviction on indictment, to a fine of EC$20,000 and to imprisonment for two years.
It also notes that “any person guilty of any other offence under this Act is liable to a fine of EC$2,500 and to imprisonment for three months”.
In its statement, the police said it is their “fervent hope and sincere belief “ that the leaders of the political parties and trade unions “would honestly advise their members, supporters and the public at large, to abide by the Laws in general and in this case, the Public Order Act, Chapter 396”.
The police said that they were also extending an invitation to the representatives of the political parties and the trade unions as well as the public to visit the office of the Commissioner of Police,”if there is need for conversation and clarification on this matter.
“The Police will be strictly and responsibly enforcing this Act and other Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” the statement added.