Leader of the Opposition United Workers Party, Lennox Linton has called for the definition of a terrorist contained in the Anti-Terrorism Bill tabled in Parliament on 25 June 2018, to be revised so as to act to protect citizens’ rights.
Mr Linton made that call while addressing a Civil Society Forum hosted by the United Workers Party (UWP) on Tuesday 11 July 2018 at the Prevo Cinemall in Roseau.
The Concerned Citizen Movement and the Public Service Union were represented at the forum and offered amendment suggestions for the Bill along with members of the party.
In addressing the forum, Mr. Linton said his party believes that Anti-Terrorism Legislation “is necessary so that persons around the world can live in peace and security” as terrorism is a threat to institutions of democracy, and the well-being of Dominica.
However, he stated that while fighting terrorism is a necessity, the UWP will continue to fight for the rights of the people provided under the Dominican constitution.
“While we are committed to taking firm, comprehensive measures to protect the citizens of Dominica against terrorist activity; we will, without compromise, continue to respect and promote the values enshrined in, and the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the constitution of the Commonwealth of Dominica,” Linton stated.
He added that while they do not oppose anti-terrorism legislation or “the criminal prosecution and severe punishment of persons who violate the law and commits acts of terror,” the party will not support the deliberately vague description and definition used in the bill.
“We do oppose the broad definition of terrorism, using deliberately vague and imprecise language intended to criminalize anti-government protests, demonstrations, and the exercise of other civil liberties in our democracy, for the benefit of dictatorial ruling party politicians,” he noted.
Additionally, Mr. Linton informed that the UWP will not support legislation that is used as “a cover up by the governing party to target their political opponents, and protect their dictatorial tendencies”.
He said the UWP will not accept laws created to criminalize the right to dissent under the cover of fighting terrorism nor will they tolerate attempts to create a moral code that glorifies such brutality of democracy.
He added that laws should not be engineered to take away the right to dissent against “corrupt government using non-violent acts” as the “right to protest for our rights is not terrorism”.
“So we are going to be proposing to the government, amendments to the Section 3.1A, and the inclusion of a definition that takes normal dissent in a democracy out of potentially being considered under the broad sweep of the definition,” he further noted.
These recommendations, he said, will be sent in writing to the Attorney General ahead of the 15 July 2018 deadline.