The Government has collapsed under intense pressure from the Opposition and widespread public dissatisfaction when it was forced to remove the controversial amendments to the Freedom of Information Act tonight in the Senate.
As a result, the time frame for responding to freedom of information requests will not be changed and the Attorney General will not be able to interfere with the freedom of information process.
Despite public outcry and criticism in the Senate, the Rowley Government led by Colm Imbert refused to redirect proposed pension monies into programmes to help the poor, create employment, educate citizens or diversify the economy. They chose higher pensions over progress. The pension hikes were mysteriously part of the same bill that sought to weaken freedom of information laws.
Regardless, this is a victory for the people of Trinidad and Tobago, as well as for democracy in our nation. The combination of civil society organizations, the Opposition, as well as countless concerned citizens all raising our voices together, stopped the blatant attempt by the Rowley Government to stifle the Freedom of Information Act, and thereby thwarting transparency and accountability in Government.
Time and again the Rowley Government has tried to pass laws without consulting people. They try to strip people of their rights while also muzzling free expression.
The United National Congress hopes that this humiliating defeat reminds the Rowley administration that their job is to be the servants of the citizenry and not the other way around.
The United National Congress will continue to stand up for the constitutional rights of our every citizen as well as the democratic values on which our great nation was founded.
Given the debacle the Government created with trying to implement these obviously flawed and draconian amendments to the Freedom of Information Act, it is time for the Attorney General to submit his resignation with immediate effect. Failure to do so would prove that Keith Rowley feels no need to hold his Government accountable for the failures of his Attorney General.