The United National Congress (UNC) is again calling on citizens to join together to condemn two pieces of legislation being put forward by Government.
Speaking at a press conference at the Opposition Leader's Office in Port-of-Spain yesterday, Opposition Senators Wade Mark and Anita Haynes renewed the party's criticism of the Non-Profit Organisations Bill and the Civil Asset Recovery and Management and Unexplained Wealth Bill.
"We are hoping that with the pressure of the people banding together behind what is right and just for our society, that we would get the Attorney General to pause on this legislation and aim to propose the best legislation for the legislative aims," Haynes said.
While Haynes and Mark stated that the party was not opposed to legislation to combat money laundering and terrorist financing, in principle, they said it is concerned over the lack of consultation on both pieces of legislation.
Mark claimed that neither was listed in the government's legislative agenda, which was released by Attorney General Faris Al Rawi shortly after assuming office.
"These were manufactured and produced by this government on the huff and on the run as they become more unpopular. They are clinging on to power by any means necessary," Mark said.
He also accused Al-Rawi of using tactics to ensure that the pieces of legislation only require a simple majority to be passed in Parliament.
"As far as we are concerned a special constitutional majority of three-fifths is required as these infringe on property and human rights," Mark said.
In terms of the Non-Profit Organisations Bill, Mark and Haynes questioned the penalties being introduced for those who fail to submit their records for analysis by the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and Registrar General.
"This is totally and absolutely unnecessary...It is a dagger in the heart of regular people of T&T," he said.
Referring to the other bill which allows the State to seize suspicious property and call upon its owners to prove the source of funding, Mark described its as draconian and punitive.
While he admitted that there were safeguards within the legislation, Mark said they would insufficient to prevent arbitrary and malicious actions by police. He also said that citizens would have to bear the costs and inconvenience in instances of seizures as they would have to hire attorneys to challenge it in court.
"This is not a communist state where you can take people's property on mere suspicion. You are looking for riots and revolution," Mark said.
Claiming that similar legislation was deemed unconstitutional in Australia and other countries, Mark said the party plans to challenge it all the way to the Privy Council if it is eventually passed in its current format.
- by Derek Achong