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Minnis warns intercept bill is being rushed

Dr Hubert Minnis

Dr Hubert Minnis

By RICARDO WELLS

Tribune Staff Reporter

rwells@tribunemedia.net

FREE National Movement Leader Dr Hubert Minnis has joined the chorus of those criticising the Interception of Communications Bill, saying the timing of the introduction of the legislation so close to the next general election raises questions about the government’s motives.

Dr Minnis said the legislation is being “rushed and rammed down the throats” of the Bahamian people.

“On Wednesday in Parliament, the government intends to push through their Interception of Communications Bill 2017,” Dr Minnis said. “This piece of legislation, which has been rushed and rammed down the throats of the Bahamian people should not be allowed to stand.”

“It is a breach of the privacy of the public at large, and it is our fear that this bill has more to do with blocking any opposition to this corrupt government, than being a useful crime-fighting tool.

“The government can say all it wants, but the simple fact of the matter is that we do not trust them. The Bahamian people do not trust this PLP government. To have this piece of legislation, with the dangers it poses to the country at large, being rushed at this late stage before a general election raises more questions about the true motive of this bill. It is unacceptable for an administration that took five years to bring forth a Freedom of Information Act to attempt to rush a bill of this magnitude without any form of consultation with the Bahamian people,” Dr Minnis added.

Meanwhile, Education Minister Jerome Fitzgerald yesterday dismissed the efforts of those civic groups pushing for a protest against the proposed bill this week as just another attempt by groups being propped up by the Save the Bays organisation to “destabilise” the government.

We March Bahamas is planning a protest on Wednesday against the legislation.

Mr Fitzgerald, who has ministerial responsibility for the Freedom of Information Act, said the planned protest is just another step in an unrelenting strategy mounted by Save the Bays and its subsidiary groups to destroy the PLP.

“I am not surprised,” stated Mr Fitzgerald. “This is just another step and again these are people who supposedly asked for accountability and freedom of information; but as I said in the House, everybody wants freedom of information until you ask them to revel their sources or what their motives are and whatever plans they have.”

He added: “I look at those who are behind it, and Save the Bays is behind it. Once Save the Bays is behind anything in this country I understand what their intentions are, solely to destabilise the government of the Bahamas, the Progressive Liberal Party.

“Unfortunately, they have used funding to do that from outside sources. It is unfortunate when you see non-Bahamians getting directly involved to the extent that they have during the course of the present government’s administration where they would fund unrest.

“Again, once Save the Bays is behind it and they are behind it, they have been behind the scenes and I have indicated publicly in the House and outside the House what my views are and information that I have received with regard to the level of commitment of their funding and what they are prepared to do.”

We March is one of several organisations that have endorsed the “Kill the Bill - The Interception of Communications Bills 2017” petition, created with a target goal of 5,000 signatories, demanding that the government shelve the legislation until such time as there has been sufficient public consultation.

Asked about the calls for public consultation, Mr Fitzgerald said: “At the end of the day there is a process for consultation and we have been consulting on various bills that we have brought to Parliament. But it doesn’t matter to me at the end of the day, once Save the Bays is behind it, it has political overtures and their main purpose as a group is to destabilise and unseat the Progressive Liberal Party.

“And if they would come out and say that and be honest, then everyone would understand the basis behind all of this unrest and the level of funding that they are putting behind it.

“It is unfortunate, it is unprecedented in our country, unprecedented that a foreign group or a group of individuals would put this amount of money and resources into destabilizing a government and overthrowing a government before an election.

He added: “I’ve said it in Parliament and I am looking forward to the day when I am able to show the Bahamian people the truth of what I am saying.”

Last March, Mr Fitzgerald accused STB of being a political organisation seeking to “overthrow” the government under the guise of an environmental group.

In the House of Assembly, Mr Fitzgerald read private emails from STB members and others, which he said bolstered his claims.

Last August, in a landmark ruling, Supreme Court Justice Indra Charles declared that Mr Fitzgerald was not legally justified when he tabled those emails and therefore could not be protected by parliamentary privilege, as he claimed at that time.

The Marathon MP was ordered to pay $150,000 in damages for the breach. He has appealed this ruling.

The Interception of Communications Bill, as constituted, will provide for the “interception of all communications networks regardless of whether they are licensed as public or not.”

The bill says this will include telecommunications operators, internet providers and postal services.

Critics have said the bill can impede civil liberties if passed and enacted without public consultation.

Comments

John 7 years, 5 months ago

Don't you know smart tv's, the cable Bahamas cable box, computers, smart phones all have the capacity to spy on you and send information, including video with sound where it can be viewed, recorded and stored? This is all leading up the New World Order one world system where they will monitor your every move, including sex and what you eat and how often you eat. Then they will come arrest you and execute you of throw you in jail after you have committed a number of infractions. No need for a trial because they will have everything documented. So the next time so the cable guy comes to upgrade your service or your picture goes off and you have to call him remember he may also be installing/repositioning/ upgrading secret spyware.

John 7 years, 5 months ago

Eventually it will become illegal to worship God or even to pray

John 7 years, 5 months ago

Christie says that Friday will be the last day to register. Does this mean the House of Assembly will be dissolved over the weekend and the date for election announced?

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