Categorized | National News

“Spy Bill” Critics Pleased With Delay

Detractors of the Interception of Communications Bill (ICB), while they accept the postponement of the Bill by Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson may be a win; they will not allow it to be a hidden distraction.

Most recently, a group of 14 Civil Society and Private Industry Organizations (CSOs) publicly expressed their joy that the decision was made.

“This action is recognized as acknowledgement that public input and review of legislation is a fundamental aspect of good governance that results in effective policies which are stronger and beneficial to the wider populace of The Bahamas,” they said.

“Our groups share the belief that the ICB is a complex piece of legislation that has implications for privacy, freedom of expression, and the effectiveness of law enforcement.”

The government has said it will use the postponement period for public consultation on the controversial bill.

The CSO’s say they are ready to work to ensure that the consultation process is as wide spread and inclusive as possible.

“We look to generate recommendations from the public that will ensure that the privacy of citizens is protected while giving law enforcement the modern tools necessary to address issues of crime,” they said.

“We are available to partner with the Attorney General and her office as recommendations from the various civil society organizations, The Bar association and members of the public to effectively amend The Bill so that it best protects citizens while ensuring it doesn’t infringe on constitutional rights.  We will use all tools and resources available to us to facilitate this critical dialogue between government and the public. This is the essential mechanism of an effective and modern democracy.

“We March” organizer Ranard Henfield had planned to hold a march to protest the bill but called it off after the announcement.

That said, Mr. Henfield’s urging “We March” to stay ready to apply even more pressure if the government refuses to take its suggestions and amendments over the next few days.

Mrs. Maynard-Gibson feels that the more people learn about the proposed legislation, the more they support it.

“I am happy to see that the Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Federation (BCCEF), the Organization for Responsible Government (ORG) and another 14 civil society organizations have recognized our commitment to ensuring that the Bahamian people have an opportunity to learn about and review the Interception of Communications Bill,” she said in a statement.

“Initial consultations with BCCEF, ORG and others led to the decision that further consultation, led by the Office of the Attorney-General (“OAG”), was necessary to inform the public about this important piece of legislation. I publicly thank them for their agreement to collaborate with OAG.”

Moreover, she holds contrary to many of the concerns that have been raised, the bill adds – rather than removes – protection for private citizens.

CSO in general is too encouraging Bahamians to take advantage of the consultation period to learn about the proposed ICB and voice their opinion.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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