Newly elected Prime Minister Dr Terrance Drew Tuesday said that he would investigate a report that police officers were denied promotion because they had failed to take a vaccine against the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
“Let me tell you my position. I’m a doctor and I have no problem with vaccination. You all know that; but you know I was also in the fight to protect people’s rights,” Drew told a meeting attended by the rank and file members of the Royal St Christopher and Nevis Police Force.
“If that was a policy position of a previous government, the (Permanent Secretary) or whoever might have been following direction; so I would like to see that policy position if you were told that by a high-ranking police officer.
“This cannot be a position by word of mouth. This can really be a borderline human rights violation and those have to be taken very seriously. So those have to be put into firm policy so that you can be satisfied that this is the direction even if you agree or disagree,” said Drew.
During the meeting one police officer said that his mental health has been affected since he was denied promotion based on the policy of the previous administration.
” Sir, I have a situation that is very disturbing to me. It is even now affecting my mental [health]. Late last year, a notice was sent out for persons to apply for promotion for the rank of corporal of police. I applied and went through the interview process.
“From reliable sources, (I) know that seven of us passed the interview process and only four were promoted, leaving three of us. The three of us who were not promoted did better than some of those who were promoted,” said the police officer.
He said that when he questioned why he and the others were not promoted, “I was told it had something to do with vaccination.
“I was against taking the vaccine all along and they told me that my name was on the list to be promoted but I have to be vaccinated. Sir, this is very, very demoralizing for us and the Police Force,” said the officer, pleading with Prime Minister Drew, who came to office following the August 5 general election, to look into his matter.
Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Osmond Petty, who was at the meeting, said that there was no official written policy barring the officers from being promoted, but that the decision was handed down from the Minister in charge at that time.
“There is or was no policy about vaccination. The procedure for approvals for promotion is that the final approval comes from the Prime Minister- the Minister of National Security and it was the decision of the then Prime Minister that persons for promotion should be vaccinated.
“So there is no written policy and there is none. It was simply a decision of the Prime Minister of the day. So, I would have passed on that information to the Commissioner of Police and it’s not just for Corporals, it was for anybody who was to be promoted and not vaccinated, and they did not get approval. So, Prime Minister [Drew] there is no policy in place,” Petty added.
During the meeting Drew thanked the police for their continued hard work and dedication in service to the twin island Federation, pledging support and to provide the necessary changes and improvements that may so benefit and motivate all officers.