The Royal St. Vincent and the Grenadines Police Force (RSVGPF) strongly condemns the violent protest actions that occurred on the streets of Kingstown on Thursday August 5, 2021 which resulted in an injury to the head of Dr. Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines (SVG).
On the date in question, the Twelfth (12th) Sitting of the First (1st) Session of the Eleventh (11th) Parliament was convened. Simultaneously, there were protest actions in progress in the immediate vicinity of the parliament building and around Kingstown that were organized by the Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) and other organization including, Trade Unions.
While the Honourable Prime Minister was returning to the parliament for the afternoon session with his security entourage, the protesters block the road leading to the parliament building. The Honourable Prime Minister and his security attempted to get to the parliament by foot. While doing so, a protester threw a projectile and struck the Honourable Prime Minister in his head, which resulted in a wound.
The Honourable Prime Minister was immediately taken to the Milton Cato Memorial Hospital (MCMH) for medical treatment. He was later flown to Barbados for further medical treatment.
As a consequence of the injury to the Honourable Prime Minister, the Police launched an investigation and a suspect was arrested on suspicion and taken into custody.
On 6.8.2021 about 5:30 p.m. police charged Ms. Annamay Lewis, 56 years Vendor of Layou with the offence of wounding. According to the investigations, on 5.8.2021, the Accused allegedly unlawfully and maliciously wounded Mr. Ralph Gonsalves, 74 years Prime Minister of Old Montrose (Dasent Cottage) by striking him on the right side of his head with an unknown object.
The Accused will be arraigned before a magistrate on Monday August 9, 2021 to answer to the charge. Charges are likely to be laid against other persons as the investigations continue.
While every citizen has the right under the Constitiion to protest, it must be done peacefully, lawfully and responsibly. The RSVGPF implore persons who wish to protest to do so without breaking the laws of the country and; or impeding the rights of other citizens.
To this end, the RSVGPF wishes to bring to the attention of members of the public the following sections of law set out in the Public Order Act, Chapter 396 of the Revised Edition of the Laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, 2009:-
- 5. Notice of meetings or processions to be given
(1) Any person organising or concerned in organising any public meeting or public procession shall notify the Commissioner of Police at least twenty-four 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:
Provided that the provisions of this subsection shall not apply to funeral processions.
(2) The organiser and any person who knowingly takes part in any public meeting or public procession held in contravention of subsection (1) is guilty of an offence under this Act.
- 6. No right of meeting in a public place
For removing doubts, it is hereby declared that no person has a right to hold a meeting in a public place.
- 7. Power to preserve good order and public safety on occasion of processions
(1) If it appears to the Commissioner of Police, having regard to the time or place at which and the circumstances in which a public procession is taking place or is intended to take place and to the route taken or proposed to be taken by the procession, to be in the interest of good order or of the public safety so to do, he may give directions imposing upon the persons organising or taking part in the procession such conditions as appear to him necessary for the preservation of good order or the public safety, including conditions prescribing the route to be taken by the procession and conditions prohibiting the procession from being held, or from continuing to be held, or from entering any particular public place specified in the directions:
Provided that no conditions restricting the display of flags, banners or emblems shall be imposed under this subsection except such as are reasonably necessary to prevent risk of a breach of the peace.
(2) If at any time the Commissioner of Police is of opinion that by reason of particular circumstances existing in any town, village or district, or in any part thereof, the powers conferred on him by subsection (1) will not be sufficient to enable him to preserve the public safety on the occasions of the holding of public processions in that town, village or district, or part thereof, he shall apply to the Governor-General for an order prohibiting, for such period not exceeding three months as may be specified in the application, the holding of all public processions or of any class of public procession so specified either in the town, village or district, or in that part thereof, as the case may be, and upon receipt of the application the Governor-General may make an order either in terms of the application or with such modifications as he may deem fit.
(3) Any person who—
(a) knowingly fails to comply with any directions given or conditions imposed under this section;
(b) organises any public procession held or intended to be held in contravention of an order made under this section;
(c) takes part in any public procession known by him to be held in contravention of an order made under this section; or
(d) incites, aids or abets any other person to commit any of the aforesaid offences,
is guilty of an offence under this Act.
- 10. Power to disperse public processions and meetings
(1) Any police officer may, in relation to either—
(a) any public meeting held during the specified time, within the specified distance of any scheduled premises; or
(b) any public procession in progress which, during the specified time, comes within the specified distance of any scheduled premises,
require any person addressing, or known to him to have addressed, such meeting or leading such procession or appearing to him to be the promoter or organiser or one of the promoters or organisers or the leader or one of the leaders of such meeting or procession, to call upon such meeting or procession to disperse.
(2) Any person required under subsection (1) to call upon any public meeting or public procession to disperse, who refuses, fails or neglects forthwith to call upon such meeting or procession to disperse is guilty of an offence under this Act.
Any person guilty of any other offence under this Act is liable to a fine of two thousand five hundred dollars and to imprisonment for three months.
Accordingly, in order to ensure the safety and security of citizens and their property and preserve the public peace, the RSVGPF will exercise a zero-tolerance approach to protest actions that are violent and unlawful in nature. The Police will be strictly enforcing the Public Order Act, Chapter 396 of Revised Edition of the Laws of SVG, 2009.