Assault on journalists outside court continues
On 6th July, a new temporary Parliament building was commissioned in St. Vincent and the Grenadines. When the national assembly met at the building for the first time on 13th July, Speaker of the House of Assembly Rochelle Forde announced the reopening of the Strangers’ Gallery (in which members of the public can sit and watch the proceedings).
The Strangers’ Gallery had been closed and media access limited to state media since the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, the public and the media could only rely on broadcasts of the proceedings as provided by state media.
Assault on journalists outside court continues.
On 3rd July, two court reporters were assaulted outside the Serious Offences Court in Kingstown. It was the second such assault this year. The reporters identified their assailant as Romaul Benn, a 45-year-old man, of Green Hill, who appeared before the court on a drug charge that day. Later, as he was being escorted to prison, Benn threw a bag of clothing and shoes at the reporters.
The reporters have filed a report with police but no charges have been laid.
As reported by the Monitor, early in the year, several media workers wrote to Police Commissioner Colin John expressing concern at what they described as the “escalating issue of threats by members of the public against and aggression” towards journalists covering the magistrate’s courts in Kingstown, the nation’s capital.
On 4th May, the High Court ordered three detectives and the Attorney General to pay prison officer Kenson King damages for wrongfully arresting and imprisoning him in May 2020. King filed the lawsuit saying that the officers wrongfully arrested and imprisoned him on 22nd May 2020, that he was wrongfully detained for about 32 hours and released without being charged with a criminal offence. He sued the state and the three police officers for general, aggravated and exemplary damages and costs.
King, an opposition activist, has faced a number of charges connected to his activism and the unlawful arrest came days after police had attempted to search his home, without a warrant, in connection with a post he had made on Facebook.