Members of the House of Representatives have received copies of the notice and the Private Member’s Bill submitted by Leader of the Opposition and Member of Parliament for Siparia, the Honourable Kamla Persad-Bissessar, SC.
On Wednesday 4th September, 2019, the Opposition Leader gave notice to the Clerk of the House of her intention to introduce The Sedition Repeal Bill, 2019, which seeks to repeal the Sedition Act, Chap. 11:04.
The explanatory statement of the Bill states that The Sedition Act, which came into force in April 1920, is inimical to the tenets of a modern constitutional democracy. The Clerk of the House circulated copies of the notice and the Private Member’s Bill to Members under Standing Order 60 (2) of the House of Representatives.
The Opposition Leader issued the following statement:
The recent utterances by Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley, as well as events that have occurred under this administration highlight a disturbing trend of attempts to silence detractors and opponents of the Government.
This is entirely unacceptable, and there is growing fear and uncertainty amongst the population about their ability to voice their concerns or frustration with the way the current Government is handling the country’s affairs.
On a regular basis, members of the media are criticized, chastised and embarrassed by members of the Rowley-led regime, and the same treatment is meted out to columnists, letter writers and even people expressing themselves on social media.
Freedom of speech is a hallmark of a thriving democracy, and efforts should be made to encourage and foster public discourse on national issues.
This Government has failed in every aspect of governance, and after four years, our country is in a worse state and people are fed up. As more people speak out and express their frustrations, will we see more charges being laid? It is a frightening thought.
I must note once again that freedom of thought and expression; freedom of association and freedom of the press are enshrined in our Constitution and we in the Opposition will continue to rigorously defend citizens’ rights.
We maintain that this law should be repealed and completely removed off the statute books.
The Opposition calls on the Government to reconsider its position on this matter, in the national interest.