The Office of the Deputy Governor has responded to recent comments made on social media that public officers have been told that they cannot wear certain colours to work during this election season.
According to the Honourable Deputy Governor Lyndell Simpson, such statements are contrary to the official information contained in the 2019 Elections Guidance Notes circulated earlier this month.
On Sunday, the Montserrat Civil Service Association told its members via Facebook that “several Heads of Departments have instructed their staff that they are not allowed to wear Red, Yellow, Blue, Green or any colour that’s perceived to be aligned with any political party. Members please note, no one can tell you what colour to wear. It is your democratic right to wear these colours without fear. Heads of Departments, kindly desist from this practice or action will be taken.”
In a release on Tuesday, the Deputy Governor “advised that if any public officer has been told that they cannot wear red, green, yellow or blue to work, that they should make a formal report to the Senior Assistant Secretary at the Office of the Deputy Governor so the matter could be appropriately addressed.”
Mrs Simpson stated that there’s nothing in the 2019 Elections Guidance Notes that suggests public officers may not hold their own political views or that they must refrain from activities designed to explain a political party’s platform/manifesto.
She added that “public officers as citizens enjoy certain fundamental rights and freedoms, including the protection of freedom of assembly and association. Therefore, it’s expected that during the run-up to the 2019 General Elections all citizens will use the opportunities provided to directly inform themselves of the issues of the day and the views of the various political parties and candidates on such matters.”
However, Mrs Simpson said in doing so, “public officers must be mindful at all times of the need to safeguard the integrity and impartiality of the Public Service given their role within the Government of Montserrat Public Service.”
The statement also said that there was nothing in the 2019 Elections Guidance Notes to preclude or prevent a public officer from attending a political meeting or seeking clarity from any political candidate on any aspect of the platform that he or she articulates.
She said public officers are prohibited from wearing political parties’/political candidates’ t-shirts, caps, buttons, pins or any other similar items to work.
Mrs Simpson further stated for the avoidance of doubt public officers are not permitted to take part in any political activity when on duty, in uniform or on official premises.
The 2019 Elections Guidance Notes to public officers was published on the Government of Montserrat’s website and various social media platforms and is freely available to all.