Categorized | National News

“ Spy Bill must not see the light,” Says Rights Bahamas

Rights Bahamas once again urges the FNM government in the strongest of terms to permanently shelf its invasive and oppressive Spy Bill. 

In a statement released yesterday, Rights Bahamas said, the citizens of the Bahamas, who cherish their freedom and jealousy guard their fundamental rights, do not need clandestine spy agencies invading their privacy.

The group said  adequate laws already exist  to achieve the stated crime fighting aims of this ill-advised legislation.
“We remind the government that the granting of such wide-ranging powers, regardless of the original intent, will inevitably lead to their abuse in the hands of unscrupulous politicians.

“Already, we saw with the former PLP government how easy it can be to rape the privacy of ordinary citizens, as for example in the Save The Bays stolen email scandal – which the FNM should note ended with the Bahamas being placed under Precautionary Measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
“Rights Bahamas wishes to remind the FNM that their predecessors tried to bring a similar Bill, only to be halted in their tracks by vocal opposition from NGOs and human rights organisations, who rightly saw the powers afforded by the Bill as unconstitutional.
“Without in any way compromising on our total rejection to the Bill as a whole, Rights Bahamas must register its particular alarm over the fact that although the FNM had promised to remove some of the most egregious provisions in the legislation, no new draft has been circulated for public consultation.
“The most terrifying powers granted by the Bill – which we must assume still stand – include: the ability for the authorities to be issued an interception warrant on such amorphous and ill-defined grounds as suspicion of threats to “public order”, “public morality” and “public health”, said the statement.

The Activist group  said  these terms are so broad as to be utterly meaningless and therefore sufficiently pliable to fit virtually any meaning a government might choose. 

“This is the perfect recipe for corruption and abuse; in no time at all, politicians of all stripes would be using these provisions to spy on their political rivals and intimidate civil society into silence.
“Additionally, the Bill would allow the authorities to go into any Bahamian home or office to, for example, intercept an arriving letter. 

“They would also be allowed to install interception devices (i.e. spy software) in people’s homes.
“To do this, the authorities do not even need to specify whether other investigative procedures had first been tried but failed. 

“Essentially, these powers would not have to be used as a last resort, and could be applied on a whim with negligible oversight,” said the group.
They claim, “In addition, the Minister of National Security would be able to empower anyone to use certain devices for a period of up to 30 days to listen and record private conversations, without first receiving permission from a judge.

“This is a gross violation of due process and the rule of law. It violates the constitution and places the Bahamas firmly on the path to dictatorship and a Big Brother State.
“Simply put, this Bill must never see the light of day,” said the statement. 

Rights Bahamas pledges to use every means at its disposal, including the courts and its extensive network of international human rights partners, to fight this anti-democratic, repressive legislation to the bitter end.

Written by Jones Bahamas

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