The main opposition National Democratic Congress (NDC) has joined in the call for Prime Minister Dr. Keith Mitchell to honour the promise made to remove those offending clauses in the controversial Electronic Crimes Act.
The NDC issued a press statement on the act which government officials admitted was given consent to take effect by Governor-General, Dame Cecile de La Grenade.
In its statement, Congress called on Civil society groupings on the island to urge PM Mitchell to keep to his promise and to remove those offending sections of the act.
Following is the full text of the NDC release:
The National Democratic Congress is calling on Prime Minister Mitchell and his New National Party administration to make good on his promise to repeal or otherwise amend the offending sections of the Electronic Crimes Act.
Minister Gregory Bowen reportedly told GBN News last week, that the Act was now in effect and claimed that the government “went to the people who had concerns and all of that would have been clarified.”
The NDC is aware that the Electronic Crimes Act was published in the Government Gazette on Oct. 3, 2013 having been granted royal assent by Governor-General, Dame Cécile La Grenade on September 23rd 2013. Contrary to Minister Bowen’s claims, the bill was passed into law with no changes made to sections 6, 16 and 25 as promised by Prime Minister Mitchell.
Although the act states that it will come into effect on a date to be fixed by the minister; the NDC notes with great concern, that the Act was assented to and therefore has the force on law in Grenada, without the promised changes being made.
It is the norm for the NNP government to break promises made to the people of Grenada. However, the Electronic Crimes Act ought to be an exception to this norm of broken promises. NDC says that it is critical to the credibility of the administration and it will be an act of good faith if the offending sections of the Electronic Crimes Act are amended now.
The offending sections fly in the face of the RIGHT to freedom of expression guaranteed by section 10 of the Constitution of Grenada. The NDC is astutely aware that in the absence of a Parliamentary opposition, the inclusion of these sections is a calculated attempt by the NNP administration to curtail any form of opposition from the people by stifling free speech. Such flagrant breach of fundamental rights of the people would have obvious negative implications for Grenada, especially since the Act applies to all persons including visitors and persons in transit in Grenada.
NDC asks, is it the intention of Prime Minister Mitchell to create a one party constitutional dictatorship in Grenada?
The attack on the fundamental right to freedom of expression by the offending provisions of the Act has not gone unnoticed by the regional and international community.
The International Press Institute’s (IPI) Press Freedom Manager, Barbara Trionfi has said that “Certainly, this calls into question whether the government was ever really serious about ensuring that this Act would not harm the free flow of information and opinion in Grenada.”
The NDC takes this opportunity to commend the Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG) for its courageous and principled stance on this most fundamental freedom.
We call on the Grenada Trades Union Council (TUC), the Conference of Churches Grenada, the Association of Evangelical Churches and other civil society organisations to condemn the Prime Minister Mitchell’s refusal to honour his promise in the strongest possible terms and to call on him to repeal or amend the offending sections of the Act without delay.