Home Further Afield Human rights group welcomes postponement of debate on “Spy Bill”

Human rights group welcomes postponement of debate on “Spy Bill”

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NASSAU, Bahamas, Feb 23, CMC – The Grand Bahamas Human Rights Association (GBHRA) has welcomed a decision by the Perry Christie government to postpone debate on the controversial Interception of Communications Bill (ICB) saying “the decision marks the dawn of a great new day for civil society and public interest activism in the Bahamas”.
Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Allyson Maynard-Gibson, who says it is unfortunate that in this political season most of the public discussions on the ICB has become completely partisan, said the government has decided to add a period of public consultation, which will be led by her office.
“During this period, we will work with civil society to ensure that Bahamians will have an opportunity to learn about and review the legislation, have their questions answered and their concerns addressed,,” she said, noting that the government was concerned that the public has been misled “very substantially about the content of this legislation”.
The GBHRA, which was among organisations here speaking out against the ICB, known locally as the “Spy Bill” said that the decision of the government “is a landmark victory for the concept of ‘we the people’ and a precedent that will alter the political landscape of the country forever.
“For far too long, the elite political class has dominated national affairs with unquestioned authority and total impunity, while ordinary citizens remained unaware of the incredible power vested in them by their Constitution. The average Bahamian believed there was nothing he or she could do to influence national decisions, other than running for office.”
The GBHRA said Bahamians and residents from all walks of life spoke out against the Bill on social media and in the press.
“They joined petitions and signed up to march in the streets against the rushed passage of a law that would have had serious consequences for their fundamental right to privacy. Collectively, we stood up for the principle that we should all have a voice in important decisions made on our behalf.
“The GBHRA thanks the Christie administration, and the Attorney General in particular, for accepting the will of the people and backing down from the dangerous and unconstitutional course upon which it had been engaged.”
It said that the society now has a chance “to balance the very important matter of ensuring that law enforcement are able to deal with modern threats effectively, with the crucial question of protecting the fundamental rights of individuals.
In a statement earlier this week, Maynard-Gibson, said “overheated and irresponsible accusations or alternative facts do nothing to further public education or engagement.
“In too many instances, the debate has been neither measured nor informed,” she said.

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