Statement on election campaign by Grouping of CSOs

GROUPING OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS
c/o Grenada Community Development Agency (GRENCODA)
Lower Depradine Street, Gouyave, St. John’s
E-mail: [email protected]/[email protected]
Tel: 444-8430/405-3439/456-8013


2 March 2018

STATEMENT ON ELECTION CAMPAIGN

The Grouping of Civil Society Organisations has taken note of a number of complaints/concerns in connection to the conduct of the election campaign and has noted violations of the conduct articulated in Section 3 of the Code of Political Conduct to Guide the Election Campaign, to which representatives of various political parties and an independent candidate publicly affixed their signatures on 6 November 2017. The Code is the citizen’s measure of the conduct of all parties and candidates, irrespective of whether or not they affixed their signatures to the document. A listing of complaints/concerns is appendixed.

A number of unwelcome developments have crept into in the electoral and campaign process and is cause for grave concern. The Grouping of Civil Society Organisations takes this opportunity to remind the electors that Grenada is a democracy in which the political process for choosing one’s government is via the ballot box. Consequently, the integrity of both the electoral process and campaign process is fundamental to ensuring elections that are “free and fair” and “free from fear”.

We remind the populace that a person’s right to belong to and support a political party of their choice is a fundamental right and freedom, guaranteed in our Constitution — freedom of conscience, of expression, of assembly and association must be exercised in a mature and responsible manner. Political rallies are means by which the contesting political parties and candidates should be articulating their arguments to influence people’s choice of party and candidates to form the next government to be stewards of the nation’s affairs. It is therefore important that electors be exposed to civil, informed discourse which addresses the issues so that electors can make informed political choices.

Freedom of movement within the country is also guaranteed by the constitution. All persons, notwithstanding their political persuasion, should be able to attend all political rallies, if they so wish, free from fear, taking into consideration that they must not infringe on the rights of others. We call on persons, particularly supporters and political activists, to demonstrate respect for and exercise tolerance towards each other and to desist from conduct which could deteriorate into violence.

Finally, we urge each elector:

  • To take responsibility for check the final Voters’ List of 20th February 2018 to ensure that his/her name is on the list
  • To know the location of the polling station where he/she should be voting
  • To go out and vote on election day
  • To walk with his/her Voters’ ID when going to vote
  • To exhibit, patience, tolerance and calm on election day!

MAKE YOUR VOTE COUNT!
YOUR DECISION! YOUR VOTE! YOUR FUTURE!


Summary of Complaints/Concerns
re the Conduct of Election Campaign 2018

1. Background:

The Civil Society Organisations Code of Political Conduct to Guide the Election Campaign 2017–2018, to which representatives of various political parties publicly affixed their signatures on 6 November 2017, is intended to achieve the following objectives:

  1. Contribute to the holding of peaceful, free and fair elections;
  2. Ensure the continuing respect for internationally recognised human and political, economic, social and cultural rights
  3. Foster and encourage people’s participation in the electoral process and uphold their right to make political choices
  4. Promote public education on acceptable political conduct
  5. Facilitate civil society and the public at large in setting up systems and taking initiatives for monitoring, evaluating and reporting on the level of adherence to the Code of Conduct
  6. Encourage sanctions by the public and other entities for non-compliance to this Code of Conduct.

In keeping with the provisions of the Code,“to monitor the election campaign activities and the conduct of the candidates”, the Grouping of Civil Society Organisations takes the opportunity to issue this statement on the conduct of the campaign. Information on the conduct of the campaign and violations/perceived violations of the Code have been received through:

  • Direct complaints of citizens to various members of Grouping of Civil Society Organisations
  • Monitoring call-in programmes, newscasts, print media and social media
  • Following the rallies/meetings of various parties and their candidates via social media or attending the events.

2. Violations of the Code of Conduct to Guide Election Campaign:

The following is a summary of the complaints and/or concerns received or noted. Each complaint or concerned has been linked to the conduct articulated in Section 3 of the Code of Conduct to Guide the Election Campaign 2017–2018.

2.1 Section 3.1(i): Agree to “uphold the Constitution and the spirit and letter of the laws relating to the holding of public activities and election campaigns”:

Among the concerns/complaints received/noted which were considered in relation to the provisions of Section 3.1.(i) of the Code of Conduct are the following:

i. Queries re Section 28(4)(a) of the Grenada Constitution:

There were queries as to whether, by his appearance on the platform of many campaign rallies, Mr Chester Humphrey, is in violation of the Constitution.

According to Section 28(4) (a) of the Constitution, “A Person shall vacate the office of President or Deputy President of the Senate — if he ceases to be a Senator: Provided that the President shall not vacate his office by reason only that he has ceased to be a Senator on a dissolution of Parliament until the Senate first meets after that dissolution.” This suggests, therefore, that Mr, Humphrey is still the President of the Senate and holds that position until the first Senate meets after election.

ii. Concerns/Allegations Expressed by the Political Leader of the NNP: At the NNP rally at Plains on 18 February 2018, the Political Leader of the NNP, expressed concerns/made allegations about the conduct of the campaign by the NDC:

a. Vicious Attack on the Electoral Process: He alleged that the NDC was conducting a “vicious attack” on the Electoral Process. Details were not offered. He called on the NDC to “stop this foolish attack” on the Electoral Process.

b. Disruption of Election Process:

i. Dr Mitchell advised the rally of the existence of a tape recording in which senior members of NDC were talking about how to disrupt the election process/how to prevent people from voting.

ii. Various newscasts have also broadcasted a story suggesting that, based on a leaked recording of an NDC training session, the NDC party was training its election officials working on election day on how to disrupt the election if an assessment was made that the party was losing.

c. Drones/Allegations of Spying: The Political Leader of the NNP also alleged that some person/persons sent a drone into the “property of the Prime Minister’s residence… to macco me[1]”. He also advised the rally that this incident was a matter of national security.

iii. Allegations of Spying: In reference to the story of a leaked recording, representatives of the NDC have alleged that they were being spied upon and that the recording was taken out of context. Their election staff were being trained on how to deal with certain situations on election day, should these situations occur.

2.2 Section 3.1(ii): Agree to “address themselves to issues and principles dealing with national growth, sustainable socio-economic development and concerns of the people, including environmental issues:

  • Carnival Type Atmosphere of Political Rallies/Meetings: The election campaign seems to be dominated by Carnival type rallies replete with banners, flags and music. This atmosphere does not lend itself to sober dialogue on the serious issues of national concern. Communication is one-way and people do not have any opportunity to interrogate those who are offering themselves for office nor do they have any opportunity to offer their own opinions and recommendations. This type of campaigning is also expensive.

2.3 Section 3.1 (vi): Agree to “do everything to promote respect, tolerance, harmony and peace among their supporters and the general public”:

The following violations have been cited:

  1. Tearing Down Posters: There have been allegations from both the New National Party and the National Democratic Congress that supporters of each party have been involved in tearing down the other’s poster.
    It has also been noted that representatives of both parties have made public calls to the supporters of their parties to desist from such conduct.
    Ms Franka Bernardine of the National Democratic Congress was featured on a newscast during the week of 11 February, calling on supporters of both parties not to vandalise or pull down posters, banners or deface private and public property.
  2. Attempted Disruption of NNP Meetings: Allegations have been made by representatives of the New National Party, including its Political Leader, that supporters of the New Democratic Congress have been engaging in acts of provocation in an attempt to disrupt political meetings of the party. At an NNP Rally on Sunday, 18 February 2018, the Political Leader, Dr Mitchell’s address he made reference to the following:
    1. Incident at D’Arbeau: He alleged that a “supporter of the NDC” attempted to assault supporters and create chaos in “a meeting at D’Arbeau last week” (i.e week of 11 February). Allegations from other sources suggest that the individual provoked a situation by his heckling of NNP representatives who were in the area to hold a meeting while other allegations suggest the NNP supporters “attacked the individual” and started “running him down”.It has been found out that the individual in question is associated with the Tri-Island Freedom Party and was a former strong supporter of the current NNP candidate for the Town of St George.
    2. Incident at Calliste: The Prime Minister alleged provocation of NNP supporters by “a crazy little man on a radio station” who came down to Calliste, walking through the NNP meeting, “testing the NNP supporters”.The Prime Minister suggested to his supporters that they should stay away from NDC meetings.

2.4. Section 3.1(viii): Agree to “participate in at least one town hall meeting and/or debate organised and hosted by civil society organisations at the community level”.

  1. Community Fora: The Grouping of Civil Society Organisations organised three community fora — in St. Patrick, (for East and West), St John and St Mark held on 13, 20 and 21 February respectively.The NDC candidates participated in all 3 fora. Except for St John, where the New National Party candidate participated in the forum, the party’s candidates did not participate in the other fora. The candidate for St. Patrick East tendered an excuse. The other candidates did not respond to the invitation to participate.
  2. GBN–SGU[2] Election Debates: It has been noted that to date, the NNP has not participated in any of the debates hosted by GBN–SGU which took place on 20 and 27 February.
    • 5.Ref. Section 3.2(i): refrain from “the use of lies, half-truths, innuendoes, bribes and threats to gain political advantage”
      The following suggest a violation of this provision of the Code of Conduct:

2.5.1 Bribes:

Note has been taken of allegations in many quarters that persons have received offers of employment, money, housing materials, etc.

2.5.2 Lies, Half-truths and Innuendos:

2.5.2.1 Statements by President of the Senate, Chester Humphrey:

At a political rally on Sunday, 18 February, at Plains, St Patrick East, Mr Humphrey made a number of the claims/suggestions including the following:

  • “Dey lock me up”: Mr Humphrey statements implied that the Executive of the administration the National Democratic Congress was responsible for his arrest when he lay down in the road to obstruct the trucks of the Grenada Breweries. This action took place during a dispute between the Technical and Allied Workers Union and the Grenada Breweries.
    • According to available information, during that dispute, President General Humphrey and workers from the Brewery, who were locked out, “proceeded to prevent a convoy of trucks loaded with brewed products and driven by scab labour from leaving the premises. This caused a major pile-up of traffic on the main highway and the police was summoned. Senator Humphrey was arrested for obstruction of traffic and failing to obey a lawful order from the police”[3].
  • Closure of Several Banks: The President of the Senate also alleged that several banks closed their branches during the administration of the National Democratic Congress. According to available information:
    • Scotia Bank[4]: closed its Grenville Branch in May 2015 as a part of the bank’s global restructuring exercise.
    • RBTT (Grenada)[5]: closed its Grenville Branch in August 2014 and its St. George’s Branch in September 2014.
    • First Caribbean International Bank[6]: closed its Carriacou branch in May 2014.

2.6. Section 3.2.(vii) Refrain from “defacing public and private property and structures”

Markings on the Road: Markings in favour of political parties have been painted on public property, particularly on roads. These markings, which are expected to be removed prior to the opening of polls on election day, will pose a challenge.

2.7. Section 3.2.(viii) Refrain from “using threats and all other forms of intimidation against members of the media”

  • Kem Jones Threatened with Legal Action: There are reports that Political Leader of the NNP has threatened legal action against a radio talk show host, Mr Kem Jones, whom he alleged, circulated a tape featuring a lady who was making allegations against the Political Leader. The Political Leader has claimed that the allegations are untrue.

2.8. Section3.2. (ix): refrain from “the inappropriate use of minors in the campaign process”

The following have come to attention:

  • Uniformed School Children in a Campaign Advertisement[7]: In her campaign advertisement, the NNP candidate for Carriacou and Petite Martinique is featuring uniformed school children.
  • School’s Drum Corps[8]: On January As part of the activities for the endorsement rally of the NNP candidate for St. Patrick West, Mr Anthony Boatswain, partially uniformed students of schools’ drum corps participated in the march to the rally venue. The school tie only item missing from the school uniform.

2.9. Section 3.2(x) – refrain from “the use of State resources for political campaigns”:

Use of the Coast Guard: It was noted that for the endorsement rally of Ms Kindra Mathurine–Stewart, the NNP candidate for the Constituency of Carriacou and Petite Martinique, which took place on 7 December 2017, the Coast Guard provided transportation to and from Carriacou for persons attending the activity.

2.10. Section 3.3.(v): Agree to ensure that “measures are taken to reduce the carbon footprint of the campaign”

The practice by the major political parties of transporting large numbers of supporters from all parts of the island to various venues to attend the weekly Carnival type political rallies, is contributing to a large carbon footprint and expensive campaign which are not promoting discourse and dialogue.

3. Commendation:

The Grouping of Civil Society Organisations commends the candidates and political representatives and chairperson s of the various events who have appealed to their supporters, activists and the general public for peaceful behaviour.


[1] local parlance for “to spy on me”.

[2] Grenada Broadcasting Network in co-operation with the St George’s University

[3] http://gtawu.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=73

[4] http://thenewtoday.gd/local-news/2015/02/19/scotiabank-announces-consolidation-in-grenada/

[5] https://www.nowgrenada.com/2014/09/rbtt-closing-st-georges/

[6] https://thegrenadainformer.com/carriacou/item/1538-depositors-quickly-severing-ties-as-fcib-closes-door-in-carriacou

[7] https://www.facebook.com/loveablelunatic/videos/10151075846059977

[8] https://youtu.be/-sn6zwxbCUs

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