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BAHAMAS | Human rights group welcomes non-passage of “Spy Bill”

Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Allyson Maynard-Gibson,
NASSAU, Bahamas, Apr 11, CMC – The Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA) has praised the outgoing Perry Christie administration for not pushing through the Interception of Communications Bill 2017 (ICB) during the last Parliament that was dissolved Tuesday.

Critics of the legislation had dubbed the bill “The Spy Bill” and the GBHRA said that the decision to scrap “the dangerous and anti-democratic “legislation “could point to a new era for civil society and public interest activism in the Bahamas”.

“The GBHRA considers this is a huge win for the concept of ‘we the people’ and a precedent that is likely to alter the country’s political landscape dramatically,” the human rights group said, adding that it wanted to thank the government “for accepting the will of the people and backing down from the dangerous and unconstitutional course upon which it had been engaged”.

GBHRAIn February, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Allyson Maynard-Gibson, said it was unfortunate that in this political season most of the public discussions on the bill had become completely partisan.

Maynard-Gibson had argued that the proposed legislation had two main purposes including one to ensure that the police have a critical crime-fighting tool in their arsenal, by modernizing the law that allows them to intercept the planning and execution of serious crimes, including drug and gun trafficking, cybercrimes and other criminal activities.

She said the other aspect of the ICB was to add a new privacy protection for Bahamian citizens, so that from now on, independent judicial review would be required before a citizen’s communications could be monitored or intercepted.

In its statement, the GBHRA said that with the non-passage of the bill “the public can now see that real power is vested in their hands and that at the end of the day, government must be answerable to the citizenry – not the other way around.

“Bahamians and residents from all walks of life spoke out against the Bill on social media and in the press; they joined petitions and signed up to march in the streets against the rushed passage of a law that would have had serious consequences for their fundamental right to privacy.

“Collectively, we stood up for the principle that we should all have a voice in important decisions made on our behalf,” the GBHRA added.

  • Countries: Bahamas