Sunday 15 December, 2019

Kamla seeks to open debate to repeal Sedition Act

Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar has written to the clerk of the House of Representatives (HoR)  indicating her intention to introduce a Private Member’s Bill: The Sedition Repeal Bill, 2019.

The Bill would be introduced pursuant to Standing Order 60 of the HoR.

This was revealed via statement issued by the Office of the Opposition Leader on Wednesday which notes that the purpose of the Sedition Repeal Bill, 2019 is to repeal the Sedition Act, Chap 11:04.

The release further stated that the act which came into force in April 1920, is damaging to the tenets of a modern constitutional democracy.

“Today, nearly a century after it was enacted, this law has no place in a free and democratic country, and therefore, it should be repealed and completely removed off the statute book,” Persad-Bissessar said.

“Free­dom of speech and ex­pres­sion are en­shrined and pro­tect­ed rights in our democ­ra­cy. The party I lead, the United National Congress, will con­tin­ue to stand for all these rights af­ford­ed to all of us un­der the Con­sti­tu­tion.” she added.

Meanwhile, the Opposition Leader lamented that many modern democracies have abolished their sedition laws.

“The Opposition will continue to do our duty to hold the Government accountable; to ask questions and seek to protect all patriotic citizens from running afoul of this archaic law and an ever-increasing oppressive Government,” she ended.

Sedition Act, Chapter 11:04: 

3 (1) A seditious intention is an intention:

(a) to bring into hatred or contempt, or to excite disaffection against Government or the Constitution as by law established or the House of Representatives or the Senate or the administration of justice;

(b) to excite any person to attempt, otherwise than by lawful means, to procure the alteration of any matter in the State by law established;

(c) to raise discontent or disaffection amongst inhabitants of Trinidad and Tobago;

(d) to engender or promote - (i) feelings of ill-will or hostility between one or more sections of the community on the one hand and any other section or sections of the community on the other hand; or (ii) feelings of ill-will towards, hostility to or contempt for any class of inhabitants of Trinidad and Tobago distinguished by race, colour, religion, profession, calling or employment; or

(e) to advocate or promote, with intent to destroy in whole or in part any identifiable group, the commission of any of the following acts, namely: (i) killing members of the group; or (ii) deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction.

A person found guilty of an offence under this section is liable on summary conviction to a fine of $3,000 and to imprisonment for two years or on conviction on indictment to a fine of $20,000 and to imprisonment for five years and any seditious publication, the subject matter of the charge, must be submitted. 

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