February 21, 2014
Government not doing enough – Opposition Leader

The Opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) has expressed concerns that very little has been done to convince the international community that the Government does not condone the actions of the former deputy consul general Edson Augustus.{{more}}

Leader of the Opposition Arnhim Eustace said on Wednesday at a media briefing that it was as if nothing was done to convince the international community that the Government was serious about the issue.

“We have to give the impression to people that when something like this happens, whether one made a mistake in our appointment or not, that we clamp down very hard to show our commitment to basic decency and integrity in terms of those representing us abroad – we have not done that,” Eustace contended.

According to the Leader of the Opposition, had due diligence been done, Augustus would not have been appointed to that position in the first place.

“We’re trying to patch something that we ourselves caused – that’s what we are doing today,” Eustace said.

He continued, saying that he was getting worried that too many similar incidents had been taking place and that they reflected badly on Vincentians.

“What is going to happen to Mr Augustus? Any punitive action except for withdrawing a passport? What is there? What tells people overseas that this Government is serious about this matter? What has been done that says that? Nothing,” Eustace said.

He told members of the media that he would have taken legal action against Augustus as well.

“Because of the lack of clarity, it is as if Augustus did nothing – a spank on the wrist and he is gone – that is how I feel,” the Leader of the Opposition said.

The manner in which the issue was dealt with may affect the confidence of international partners, including the US and Britain, Eustace said.

A day earlier, Prime Minister Ralph Gonsalves said that he did not know what law Augustus was guilty of breaking.

Gonsalves said that people had taken issue with the statement made by Minister of Foreign Affairs Camillo Gonsalves, who announced that Augustus had broken no law, except that he acted outside the scope of his duties.

“Well, I want somebody to tell me what law he has broken, and if he has in relation to St Vincent and the Grenadines,” Gonsalves said.

He said that he was no expert on the laws of the US, so he was not in a position to comment.

“Everybody has become an expert on diplomacy, an expert on criminal law, an expert in the issuance of passports – without asking questions,” Gonsalves said. (DD)