Approximately 32 hours after his arrest, Park Hill resident Kenson King walked away from the Royal SVG Police Force’s Criminal Investigations Department holding cells without any charges brought against him.
King is an active social media based critic of the Dr. Gonsalves-led Vincentian government. On May 15, he supposedly took to Facebook to vent about a domestic situation that has been plaguing his family. In that post King allegedly said, “see when I speak about Ralph allyo does vex. Now, I have an uncle named Mohammed King. Some know him as Hanniffe. He has two licensed firearms. He keeps on terrorizing his brothers. I had to personally give him a warning in 2015.
“Numerous reports have been made against him by my father and now Archie his younger brother. He keeps on threatening my uncle to shoot him. They both live in the family house. Now, my uncle went to the Colonaire Police Station to make a report against Haniffe just in the week.
“The police came and confiscated the guns. Now this morning, Haniffe can have the guns, firing shots in the air and bragging that he called Ralph and Ralph called the Colonaire Police Station and threatened them, asking them if they gave license for guns to Hanniffe.
“Now you remember what happened with the nurse that Mitch killed? I know this is not gonna be a repeat of that. When I decide to take matters into my own hands, I wanna see who is gonna come tell me something.”
3 days later on May 18, in another Facebook update King allegedly told his social media circle, “So I have had a very interesting morning. Just got home from work and the police show up at my gate. They have come to place me under arrest.
“I had to do a double take. Like, what crime did I commit? Out of the five officers who came, none could give me an answer. All they know is that the CID wants me. They proceed[ed] to make a call to find out why I am being arrested [sic].
“The answer that came back was even worse. I am being arrested for breaking “various sections of the Cyber-crime Act”. I then proceed to ask what section or sections. Nobody knows. There was then an exchange with my lawyers.
“Waiting to see what happens next. All this after a post I made about my uncle and his guns, and alleged interference in the matter that led to him getting them back according to him. I have been hunted since Friday. This should be interesting.”
On Friday May 22, King was eventually picked up by the police and escorted to the holding cells at the Central Police Station based Criminal Investigations Department.
Asbert News Network contacted Jomo Thomas, one of King’s lawyers, on Saturday to query whether the charges brought against his client were related to the unspecified Cyber-crimes allegations of which the police was said to have accused King during their previous contact. Thomas told us, “I do not want to speculate on possible charges. The police have a legal responsibility to tell the accused person why he is detained as soon as possible – by 24 hours – of the arrest.
“They law also requires the authorities to take the accused and charged person before a legal tribunal within 48 hours or as soon as is responsibly possible. Sadly, until now the police mock the law and hold suspects for up to 48 hours and then release them with no charge.
“It must be remembered that someone can only be arrested on the basis of probable cause of having committed an offense. We know of no crime Kenson King has committed and he has not been charged. It is my opinion, if he is released without charge, the authorities should be made to answer in a court of law for false imprisonment.
“Clearly, the police seem to labour under the misapprehension that they can willy-nilly curtail the constitutional rights of citizens, especially the children of the poor to arbitrary arrest and detention. The court should clarify this point because this kind of detention is wrongful and illegal.”
We pressed the lawyer further as to whether or not litigation can be expected via his chambers on the point of King’s so-called false imprisonment. At that time his response was, “I was not instructed to file such a suit.”
Thomas also stressed, “There is also the issue of the privacy rights of citizens which the Vincentian police routinely violate and that has to do with the seizure and perusal of citizens phone records. The law in the OECS is clear. The police must seek judicial authorization before it accesses the private information from the phone of citizens. A suit for the violations of citizens’ rights is long overdue and may soon be at the door of a law court in SVG.”
We caught up with Kenson King several hours after his release from Police custody last Saturday evening and again asked about the possibility of filing a lawsuit in complaint of his “wrongful detention.” He told ANN, “I will more than likely file suit.”
King, who has been employed as a prison officer since 2005, explained that the arresting Officers told him, “that they came to pick me up for a Facebook post that is liable to cause fear and alarm to the public.”
This post turned out to be the May 15 protest of the alleged interference in Police procedure when dealing with threats made against human lives by licensed gun holders. Although the post did not officially name Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves, the inference to be drawn was quite clear.
Nonetheless we asked King whether or not the post was intended to name the Prime Minister who has occupied that substantive post for the most recent 4 consecutive terms. King said, “I never admitted to making the post, but the post that is there obviously alleges that is Ralph Gonsalves the post is talking about because who other Ralph would have the kind of clout to call the Station to tell the police to give back the guns to someone else.”
He also added, “at the end of the day it’s possible that [my arrest] is politically motivated.”
Although no charges were filed, King told us that a “Sargent Duncan” pointed to the section of the May 15 post which projected potential similarities with his domestic situation to circumstances surrounding the incident which led to the death of Cuban nurse Arianna Taylor-Israel on January 30 this year. “They claimed that the part pertaining to Mitch Israel and his wife is liable to cause fear and alarm to the public….That is what Duncan, at CID, presented to me.”
Nothing was said as to why King was not arrested on May 18 when police officers showed up at his home supposedly to carry out an arrest warrant. Though, “it was all cyber-crime related,” King opined. He asserted that the interrogating officers did reinforce the premise that his alleged infractions sprang from the Facebook post and as such there was “nothing else they could have ‘charged’ me under.”
King was released at 8 p.m. some 16 hours before the mandatory 48 hours, within which a person can be detained without legal charges being laid, expired. He maintains, “I’m good and I’ve been in good spirits through it all. Nothing like this really fazes me. At the end of the day it shows, no matter what, somebody has to stand in the gap when it comes to freedom of speech and defending one’s constitutional rights and so forth.
“And that you can stand up and demand that the legislations of the country be followed because everybody has rights and you have your constitutional rights to demand certain things. You don’t give away your rights just like that – without you giving them away they can’t take them.”
The 33 years old man is only the latest person to be hauled in by local law enforcement authorities on alleged cyber-crime transgressions since the bill passed into law in 2016. In 2019 the first case to be brought under the cybercrime act ended when Senior Prosecutor Aldophus Delplesche withdrew charges against Catisha Pierre-Jack, of Lower Questelles. “The charges stem from posts that Pierre-Jack admitted to making about her older sister, Crystal Pierre on Facebook on Jan. 30 2018,” an online media source reported.
In 2015 secondary school teacher Jozette Bibby-Bowen was arrested on March 2 and charged in connection with posts she allegedly made on the social networking website, Facebook. The 37-year-old Belmont resident was arrested at Bishop’s College Kingstown where she worked at the time. That case was nolle prosequi without any proffered reasons for its withdrawal. At that time there were no cybercrime laws enacted locally.
And in 2016 while the Cybercrime bill was still being debated in Parliament, Paul “I-Madd” Scrubb was detained by police for comments he allegedly published on Facebook that previous year. In 2017 the prosecution withdrew charges that Scrubb did “utter seditious words and that he maliciously sent or uttered threats to kill, to wit: “Ralph Gonsalves should be assassinated, also his whole damn family period. Blessed Love.”
Senior Prosecutor Aldophus Delplesche was reported to have “told Chief Magistrate Rechanne Browne-Matthias that the prosecution was withdrawing [Scrubb’s] case, because they could not sustain the charge,” according to one Searchlight Newspaper article.