Govt begins review of Sedition Act

Tuesday, September 17, 2019 - 17:15

Af­ter weeks of pub­lic de­bate, con­cerns be­ing ex­pressed and even promis­es from the op­po­si­tion Unit­ed Na­tion­al Con­gress to bring a re­peal law to Par­lia­ment, the gov­ern­ment is now in the process of re­view­ing the Sedi­tion Act with an aim to make changes.

But At­tor­ney Gen­er­al Faris Al-Rawi is mak­ing it clear there is a need for such laws, and so an ap­pro­pri­ate re­place­ment must be de­cid­ed up­on.


AG Al-Rawi told Guardian Me­dia that the now con­tentious Sedi­tion Act is un­der re­view at the Law Re­vi­sion Com­mit­tee as well as at the Law Re­form Com­mis­sion. He has al­ready re­ceived a white pa­per on it.

How­ev­er, Al-Rawi posed a ques­tion to all those who are call­ing for the law to be re­moved from our law books, that is: What will re­place it?

“More pub­lic sec­tor in­ter­ac­tion is re­quired be­cause you haven’t heard a sin­gle pro­po­nent say what should re­place the law. All you’ve heard are peo­ple say­ing get rid of it and what’s next?”

He ar­gued that coun­tries like In­dia and Sin­ga­pore, for ex­am­ple, have tried re­peal­ing such laws and were forced to keep it.

AG Al-Rawi said in a coun­try such as Trinidad and To­ba­go where there was a 1970 up­ris­ing and a 1990 at­tempt­ed coup, there is a need for sedi­tion laws.

The re­cent de­bate on sedi­tion arose af­ter Wat­son Duke, Pres­i­dent of the Pub­lic Ser­vices As­so­ci­a­tion, PSA was charged with one count for state­ments he made while ad­dress­ing WASA work­ers.

Since then sev­er­al at­tor­neys, ac­tivists, union lead­ers, cur­rent and for­mer politi­cians have ex­pressed the de­sire to have the law scrapped.

Op­po­si­tion Leader Kam­la Per­sad Bisses­sar has al­ready sub­mit­ted a no­tice of the Sedi­tion Re­peal Act to all Mem­bers of Par­lia­ment which she in­tends to bring to the Par­lia­ment un­der a pri­vate mo­tion.

At a news con­fer­ence two weeks ago Prime Min­is­ter Dr Kei­th Row­ley said he was open to a re­view of the leg­is­la­tion.

He al­so de­nied that his gov­ern­ment had any in­volve­ment in who gets charged un­der the Sedi­tion Act.