Local lawyer and former speaker of the House of Assembly Jomo Thomas has deemed the Commissioner of Police application of the Public Order Act in relation to the upcoming protests by the Public Service Union and the opposition New Democratic Party as backward.
In a telephone interview with SVGTV News, Thomas noted the origins of the Public Order Act which he said was implemented in the early 1950’s after adult suffrage, to corral the black population of St.Vincent and the Grenadines.
He noted that while there are constitutional provisions which allow the state to have certain restrictions on speech, time and manners, the context in which this happens raises the question of whether good governance and democracy are being practiced.
Thomas noted the history of procession demonstrations in SVG and said the tradition of democratic expressions should be upheld.
According to Thomas, the present developments are a narrowing of the democratic processes in the country. He highlighted that persons are known to picket in capital Kingstown and neither the opposition nor the unions require permission from the Commissioner to protest. According to Thomas it will be interesting to see how these organisations will proceed in light of the commissioners stipulations.