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Code of Ethical Political Behaviour out this weekend

By \\\\\ Michelle Loubon

Roman Catholic Archbishop Joseph Harris said the Code of Ethical Political Behaviour is appealing to politicians and political parties to “focus on the national issues and refrain from not very charitable behaviour and words”. 

The Code of Ethical Political Behaviour was conceptualised by Harris and will be released this weekend.

  It was drafted with input from other religious leaders like Anglican Bishop Claude Berkley and civil society organisations, including Transparency International and the Network of Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs),  along with FITUN and the Chamber of Commerce.  

In a telephone interview on Thursday, Harris said: “We are getting ready for general elections. It is about  how people should  behave, it is a Code of Ethical Political Behaviour asking political parties and politicians  to behave in a certain way and not try  to cut down each other. It is about appealing to them to refrain from engaging in  not very charitable behaviour and words that we hear coming out  of political platforms.

Harris added: “It is an attempt to get people to talk about  policies instead of the ad hominim (Latin meaning ‘about a person’) arguments. It should not be about a person, it should be about the policies that affect the citizens.” 

Asked to comment on the conduct of contemporary Parliamentarians, Harris said: “I think we could give our young people a better example inside the Parliament.”

 Harris said he would continue praying fervently for the nation.

Referring to the Code, Anglican Bishop Berkley said: “We are supporting it fully.” 

 Berkley said the Code was intended to “streamline campaign and politicking matters so good order will prevail”.

 He paid kudos to Harris for the idea. 

 “I think it is an important initiative which was conceptualised by Fr Harris. He invited other religious leaders to share in it and we want to commend him. It was a good sign that there is a great interest in the well-being of the country,” said Berkley.

 “It underscores the need for some of the comments that have been made in the public domain. It is intended to streamline the matters of campaigning and politicking. We hope  there will be good order and we will not deteriorate as in other Caribbean islands. They have gone down the path to violence,” he added, referring to Jamaica.

 Citing the Biblical analogy of the sower,  Berkley said he hoped “it would not fall on barren soil, but its contents would bring forth fruit”.

 “We hope we can disagree in a way that is not obnoxious and that will maintain standards of good citizenship and orderly conduct. We wish it would be embraced by the political parties and all people involved in that process.”

  The Code will also address the issue of equal sharing of media time.

 “There would be a sharing of all the people involved and a sharing of media time, publicity and promotion. We feel there should be due respect for each other in the way the matters are presented and attempts to humiliate or to demean others should be avoided,” said Berkley. 

Asked to comment on the debate over the conduct of soldiers on patrol in Laventille, Archbishop Harris said: “I am not a lawyer and I don’t know if it is right or wrong.”

With regard to Yasin Abu Bakr’s warning to Commissioner of Police Stephen Williams and National Security Minister Gary Griffith over police raids on the Carapo mosque during Ramadan, Harris said: “I hope people don’t do anything stupid.” 

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