Grenada journalist arrested in St Vincent

Local media interviewing Grenadian journalist Hamlet Mark (R) following his release without charge after he was arrested by police in St Vincent while reporting on a public protest. Photo: NDP/Facebook

Local media interviewing Grenadian journalist Hamlet Mark (R) following his release without charge after he was arrested by police in St Vincent while reporting on a public protest. Photo: NDP/Facebook

 

By Caribbean News Now contributor

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent –January 25, 2016      Questions are being asked regionally and internationally after Grenadian journalist Hamlet Mark was taken into custody by police while covering a public protest by supporters of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) outside the Electoral Office in Kingstown, St Vincent, on Thursday.

Mark, who runs Caribupdate News Services and is also an advisor to the Keith Mitchell government in Grenada, returned to the Kingstown protest following his release from police custody on Thursday afternoon after about six hours detention. No charges were laid against him but he was reportedly forced to listen to a police lecture regarding him damaging the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP).

Mark is known to have made several trips to St Vincent over the past weeks, covering the general elections and the developments that have followed, including the current protests.

The opposition NDP has accused the ULP of cheating in a number ways during and before the December 9, 2015, general elections, including giving away more than $10 million worth of government- owned building supplies to their supporters to bribe them to vote for the ULP.

The NDP has also complained that hundreds of ULP supporters registered falsely in constituencies where they did not live and had not lived for the required statutory period. But the biggest complaint is that ballot boxes were allegedly tampered with, having been left unsealed overnight in a police station.

On Wednesday, police took nine protesters into custody and charged four of them with illegal assembly, apparently citing a law that says no protest or public meeting can take place within 200 yards of a government ministry office.

 

Mark was filming the police reaction to the latest demonstration last Thursday when a senior officer ordered that he be taken into custody. He was reportedly filming a police officer who he had previously recorded the previous day whilst arresting Luzette King, an outspoken NDP supporter. The police officer apparently took an offence to being filmed and ordered him to be arrested.

Mark went quietly with the police officers to the Central Police Station, located a few hundred yards away.

While he was being taken to the police station, he reportedly asked the officers if he was under arrest but they told him they did not know. Others arrested were told to wait until they got to the police station and a senior officer would decide what to charge them with.

At the station, Mark was booked and his camera and microphone were taken from him; however, they were returned to him with all his other belongings including files when he was released.

Like most of those who were arrested by the police, on release he claimed he was verbally abused by police officers while in custody. He was apparently berated with verbal abuse from officers. He was told he was putting the ULP government in a bad light and embarrassing the government and that they didn’t want him at the protest, accusing him of being anti-ULP.

According to local sources, Mark was perhaps fortunate that he was not roughed up because three of those detained by the police had to attend hospital after being in custody for a short time, one man with suspected broken ribs.

The ULP won the December 9 elections and a fourth term in office by taking eight of the 15 parliamentary seats, while the NDP won the remaining seven. However, the NDP has alleged a number of offences by the ULP under the Representation of the People Act

While regional and international observers have declared the elections free and fair, they were not present on the island when the claimed giveaway of government building materials took place, which is described by NDP as election bribery.

The NDP claims that the ULP stole the ballot and is contesting the results in court.

The protest was given a big boost with its largest crowd on Thursday, its 28th day, after the police crackdown on Wednesday. The word of what happened the previous day appeared to infuriate many Vincentian citizens, including some visiting from the Diaspora, swelling the crowds.

This was apparently the first time Mark had ever been detained by police during a journalistic assignment, and besides that he has never been intimidated by police before. The incident brings into question freedom of the press in SVG as the protests in Kingstown continue.

A local political activist said, “Don’t just take the local guys’ word about intimidation; ask Hamlet Mark, he is the living proof.”

 

Comments are closed.

TMR print pages

Newsletter

Archives

CARICOM – Staff Vacancy

CXC HEADQUARTERS - Executive Search

https://indd.adobe.com/embed/2b4deb22-cf03-4509-9bbd-938c7e8ecc7d

A Moment with the Registrar of Lands

Local media interviewing Grenadian journalist Hamlet Mark (R) following his release without charge after he was arrested by police in St Vincent while reporting on a public protest. Photo: NDP/Facebook

Local media interviewing Grenadian journalist Hamlet Mark (R) following his release without charge after he was arrested by police in St Vincent while reporting on a public protest. Photo: NDP/Facebook

 

By Caribbean News Now contributor

Insert Ads Here

KINGSTOWN, St Vincent –January 25, 2016      Questions are being asked regionally and internationally after Grenadian journalist Hamlet Mark was taken into custody by police while covering a public protest by supporters of the main opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) outside the Electoral Office in Kingstown, St Vincent, on Thursday.

Mark, who runs Caribupdate News Services and is also an advisor to the Keith Mitchell government in Grenada, returned to the Kingstown protest following his release from police custody on Thursday afternoon after about six hours detention. No charges were laid against him but he was reportedly forced to listen to a police lecture regarding him damaging the ruling Unity Labour Party (ULP).

Mark is known to have made several trips to St Vincent over the past weeks, covering the general elections and the developments that have followed, including the current protests.

The opposition NDP has accused the ULP of cheating in a number ways during and before the December 9, 2015, general elections, including giving away more than $10 million worth of government- owned building supplies to their supporters to bribe them to vote for the ULP.

The NDP has also complained that hundreds of ULP supporters registered falsely in constituencies where they did not live and had not lived for the required statutory period. But the biggest complaint is that ballot boxes were allegedly tampered with, having been left unsealed overnight in a police station.

On Wednesday, police took nine protesters into custody and charged four of them with illegal assembly, apparently citing a law that says no protest or public meeting can take place within 200 yards of a government ministry office.

 

Mark was filming the police reaction to the latest demonstration last Thursday when a senior officer ordered that he be taken into custody. He was reportedly filming a police officer who he had previously recorded the previous day whilst arresting Luzette King, an outspoken NDP supporter. The police officer apparently took an offence to being filmed and ordered him to be arrested.

Mark went quietly with the police officers to the Central Police Station, located a few hundred yards away.

While he was being taken to the police station, he reportedly asked the officers if he was under arrest but they told him they did not know. Others arrested were told to wait until they got to the police station and a senior officer would decide what to charge them with.

At the station, Mark was booked and his camera and microphone were taken from him; however, they were returned to him with all his other belongings including files when he was released.

Like most of those who were arrested by the police, on release he claimed he was verbally abused by police officers while in custody. He was apparently berated with verbal abuse from officers. He was told he was putting the ULP government in a bad light and embarrassing the government and that they didn’t want him at the protest, accusing him of being anti-ULP.

According to local sources, Mark was perhaps fortunate that he was not roughed up because three of those detained by the police had to attend hospital after being in custody for a short time, one man with suspected broken ribs.

The ULP won the December 9 elections and a fourth term in office by taking eight of the 15 parliamentary seats, while the NDP won the remaining seven. However, the NDP has alleged a number of offences by the ULP under the Representation of the People Act

While regional and international observers have declared the elections free and fair, they were not present on the island when the claimed giveaway of government building materials took place, which is described by NDP as election bribery.

The NDP claims that the ULP stole the ballot and is contesting the results in court.

The protest was given a big boost with its largest crowd on Thursday, its 28th day, after the police crackdown on Wednesday. The word of what happened the previous day appeared to infuriate many Vincentian citizens, including some visiting from the Diaspora, swelling the crowds.

This was apparently the first time Mark had ever been detained by police during a journalistic assignment, and besides that he has never been intimidated by police before. The incident brings into question freedom of the press in SVG as the protests in Kingstown continue.

A local political activist said, “Don’t just take the local guys’ word about intimidation; ask Hamlet Mark, he is the living proof.”