An unnamed police officer, said to be assigned to the so-called “Special Branch” of the Royal SVG Police Force was supposedly discovered attempting to surreptitiously record the private discussions of the New Democratic Party’s East Saint George constituency delegates meeting.
NDP spokesperson Clemroy ‘Bert’ Francois made the revelation as part of the Thursday July 30 New Times episode. The weekday politically charged talk-show airs on NICE Radio. Francois told listeners, “the New Democratic Party had a function last night in East St. George. It was a private function, it was a delegates function; not even NDP supporters generally were allowed in.
“A lot of them were aggrieved … but the process had a way it was supposed to go; the delegates, the General Secretary, the hierarchy of the Party etc – it was not open to the public so to say. Going forward all meetings would be open…. Imagine that gathering of the New Democratic Party eh – small gathering, private gathering – the authorities saw it fit to send Special Branch police to take notes, record the meeting etc. I want it to sink in.
“And I want to say clearly: I know a lot of persons have spoken this ‘Oh, we must expose the police!’ It is not the police that need exposing! Let me make it clear. If you are a police officer, you’re working in Central Branch [sic] and the Commissioner or the Prime Minister or the higher up give you an order – go to this function and record – yo have no choice but to go!”
He urged listeners to not focus on the officers who, as he said, are “doing their work.” It is the “persons who are manipulating their offices to get the police and others to do and carry out infringement on the human rights and privacy of the people of St. Vincent and the Grenadines,” who must be held accountable.
Francois told us, it was another attendee to the meeting who brought the alleged trespasser to his attention and together they journeyed to the rear of the Calliaqua based Anglican Parish Hall building where the supposed police officer was accosted.
“I told him, ‘wait, is you? I come round here to keep plenty noise brother only because is you why I won’t carry on but you can’t record the session brother’,” Francios disclosed.
This officer, he said, is “not a newcomer” to the police service since he’s known to be around the Special Branch for some time. Francios, however, he claims to not know the officer’s rank. The Special Branch Department, though, Francios said, “as far as I know they are supposed to be undercover police who gather intelligence but they does use them for, in my view, political work.”
Colin John, Police Commissioner, told us, “I have no knowledge of what you are referring to,” in response to our probe. We asked him, “is there any reason for police operatives to be interested in such proceedings? And if so, what might that/those reason(s) be?”
Meanwhile Tyrone James, NDP’s General Secretary was reluctant to speculate on any possible interest the police might have in his organization’s internal discussions. “It’s not as if we are a terrorist group that they’d want to hear how we plan to overthrow or take over the country or anything. I mean, we are a recognized institution.
“I’ve heard where they have gone into the meeting of Unions and record what was going on. I don’t know why they would be doing these things. I don’t know if they perceive a threat. I can’t see why,” said James, who is now into his 3rd year since assuming executive management of the NDP’s operational affairs.
James noted that Party decision makers are yet to “discuss and decide how we move forward, if any action is required.” In the meantime he sought to remind the general public that, “the New Democratic Party is a law abiding organization. We respect law and order in SVG.
“Our task is to take government, legitimately, and run this country recognizing the rule of law. We are not a threat outside the political domain to anyone. Only if it is perceived politically, that could be a threat; but that is the only threat we are, politically. Because we are a political party and our objective is to take government through the electoral process.”
A different cop was recognized, photographed and posted on Facebook in another NDP session approximately 4 years ago, Francois also disclosed.