Thursday, February 22, 2018

Online petition to halt bill gets 1,655 signatures


Having their say: Protesters hold up placards yesterday against the Constitution (Amendment) Bill at the front of the Parliament building, International Waterfront Centre, Port of Spain. The bill was laid in the Senate yesterday. —Photo: ISHMAEL SALANDY

Mark Fraser

 An online petition calling for the Constitution (Amendment) Bill 2014 to be halted has been circulating over the past two weeks.

According to the petition website, as of yesterday there were 1,655 signatures.

 Jamelia Reid-Cato, who started the petition, said she was able to get an additional 1,300 to sign on paper.

Reid-Cato was among a handful of protesters who showed up yesterday outside the Parliament Building, at the Waterfront Complex Port of Spain, to voice concerns over certain aspects of the Bill.

She said she started the petition on August 6, two days after Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar presented changes to the bill in Parliament.

The Constitution (Amendment) Bill was subsequently passed in the Lower House on August 11.

“The whole idea behind this petition is that the bill is poorly drafted…the three proposed changes including the recall of a member of Parliament, the two-term limits for a Prime Minister and the run-off poll do not make sense…this bill needs to go back and needs to go through a consultation process,” she said.

“I almost had a seizure when I read the bill the first time and I thought I misread something and I got one of my colleagues who is a political scientist to read it and he came back and told me that I was right in my analysis of it,” she added.

Reid-Cato said she intends to download all the comments and signatures from the petition and make packages, which would then be passed on to Opposition and Independent senators.

“This is nothing political. Government is tampering with all our rights as citizens…we are hoping to get enough support before the bill is debated in the Senate on August 26,” she said.

Outside the Parliament yesterday, members of the civil rights organisation, Fixin’ T&T led by Kirk Waithe continued their protest against the run-off aspect of the bill.