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News : Local Last Updated: Feb 22, 2017 - 4:32:33 PM

GBHRA: Spy Bill postponement decision a landmark victory for ‘we the people’
By Grand Bahama Human Rights Association (GBHRA)
Feb 22, 2017 - 4:28:21 PM

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(GBHRA Statement) The postponement of Interception of Communications Bill 2017 for public consultation marks the dawn of a great new day for civil society and public interest activism in The Bahamas. It is a landmark victory for the concept of ‘we the people’ and a precedent that will alter the political landscape of the country forever.

For far too long, the elite political class has dominated national affairs with unquestioned authority and total impunity, while ordinary citizens remained unaware of the incredible power vested in them by their Constitution. The average Bahamian believed there was nothing he or she could do to influence national decisions, other than running for office.

With this one victory, all that has changed. With this one victory, members of the public now know that the real power is vested in their hands and that at the end of the day, government is 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 thanks the Christie administration, and the Attorney General in particular, for accepting the will of the people and backing down from the dangerous and unconstitutional course upon which it had been engaged.

Now, we as a society have a chance to balance the very important matter of ensuring that law enforcement are able to deal with modern threats effectively, with the crucial question of protecting the fundamental rights of individuals.

We do, however, take issue with the characterization of this victory as in some way political. This was people power in action and to the extent that opposition forces joined the movement, it was no more than an acknowledgement that they understand the tide of history.

In this new day, political parties will have to operate transparently and take the views of the citizenry into account if they expect to hold office in The Bahamas.

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