By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts, February 21, 2018 – Civil society in St. Kitts and Nevis has remained silent on rising crime, murders, armed robberies, corruption, nepotism and cronyism in government and several pleas from the opposition St. Kitts-Nevis Labour Party to rein in the Team Unity Government of Prime Minister Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris in its deliberate attempt to stifle the voice of the opposition in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly.
Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly early in January appealed to the NGO’s to assist in resolving issues as failure to do so could lead to confusion and social discord in the country.
“I appeal to the voices of balance, fair-play, objectivity, and those who are part of the NGO’s – the churches, the business community and our service organisations – to come to terms with the fact that there is a definite effort on the part of the government, assisted by the Speaker Michael Perkins, to stifle democracy and freedom of speech in the Parliament.
The former prime minister appealed to the non-governmental organisations to “come to terms with the fact that if the government continues on this path of attempting to silence the voice of the opposition in our Parliament, that it will not be good for any and all of us.”
Dr. Douglas said Speaker Michael Perkins “has been uncompromisingly biased in his rulings in the House.”
“This is a serious signal to the death of democracy here in St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Dr. Douglas as he passionately appealed to the NGO’s “to speak out against these matters, otherwise they will lead to unnecessary confusion and social discord here in St. Kitts and Nevis.”
“Is there a conspiracy of silence among professional groups in St. Kitts and Nevis, was the question posed by a caller during discussion on the continuing international spotlight on St. Kitts and Nevis in relation to damming reports that a rogue herpes vaccine trial involving 20 United States and British citizens was conducted at a private home on St. Kitts in 2016.
“I do not understand why there is a conspiracy of silence among professionals in this country. I really do not understand it. It seems like anybody has the backbone or the culture anymore to talk about issues that even affect them in their professions,” said the caller to a popular talk show.
He said there were too many issues where the opinion of the St. Kitts and Nevis Medical Association is warranted.
“I can think of the Basseterre High School, the (illegal) stem cell at the J. N. France General Hospital, (deteriorating) health management, and now this (herpes vaccine trial). Why is there a silence from the professionals,” said the male caller.
His comments came at a time when several professional bodies including the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Nevis Christian Council, the Nevis Evangelical Association, the St. Kitts and Nevis Bar Association, the St. Kitts Christian Council, the St. Kitts Evangelical Association, the St. Kitts Business Forum, the Nevis Teachers Union and the St. Kitts Teachers Union had remained totally silent on several national issues, the stifling of parliamentary democracy in the St. Kitts and Nevis National Assembly, the watering down of the Public Accounts Committee, the decision of the Team Unity Government to construct a new Basseterre High School on the Basseterre water table which provides millions of drinking water to residents of Basseterre and its environs; the Lanny Davis payments from the Office of the Prime Minister despite his denials and the call by ousted executive and founding members of the Peoples Labour Party (PLP) allegation that over EC$10 million in campaign funds cannot be accounted for.
In December last year, a national also expressed concern that the consciences of civil society in St. Kitts and Nevis have become just as “heartless as the murderers who terrorise our land.”
“Why the silence? Do they no longer care about humanity and the need to speak on matters that continue to affect our society? We see a steady erosion of our democracy as fear has gripped the soul and consciences of those who should be at all times protecting and speaking out on the injustices that are being perpetrated on individuals, segments of the society and community and the disadvantaged,” the individual said.
With increasing incidents of home invasions, armed robberies and murders in which several businessmen, women and teenagers have been killed, the St. Kitts and Nevis Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the St. Kitts and Nevis Bar Association, the St. Kitts Business Forum, the St. Kitts Christian Council, the St. Kitts Evangelical Association, the Nevis Christian Council, the Nevis Christian Council, the Nevis Teachers Union and the St. Kitts Teachers Union have all remained silent.
The record shows there has been no statement from civil society on murders, armed robberies or serious incidents over the past two years.
Even the kidnapping and gruesome murder of 17-year-old Leanna Napoleon, whose body was found in a shallow grave last year failed to stir a response from civil society.