Our Readers' Opinions
March 1, 2011
Make them BETTER or LEAVE them so!

EDITOR: Human laws are hardly ever flawless and the laws of St. Vincent and the Grenadines are no exception. Any opportunity by legislators to IMPROVE a law for the good of the citizens should be appreciated and welcomed. Similarly, any attempt ‘to make worse’ the laws of our country should be protested by ALL the people.{{more}}

Among other definitions for amendment, the online Merriam Webster Dictionary describes it as “correction” or “emendation (designed to correct or improve)”. Your Dictionary.com, another helpful research tool, defines amend as “to remove faults of; the act of changing for the better; an alteration intended to improve; to make better or improve”. The recent move by the current administration to amend the Criminal Procedure Code and the Representation of the People Act is a backward move. An Act that provides more choices through which justice can be sought by the people should not to be amended to reduce the choices and put more power into the hands of one man (the DPP), who is usually politically biased. This is not an improvement! It may have been better to bring a bill to decrease the power of the DPP.

A law that seeks to lift the standard of morality for aspiring representatives should not be amended to free politicians from behaving in a truthful responsible manner before and during an election. In these days, when many politicians tend to be very loose with their tongues and would do almost anything to retain or gain power, stiff penalties for slander and libel should remain and be strengthened. Additionally, when we consider that the deceitful and slanderous behaviour of a politician can negatively influence the fairness of an election, causing persons to be deceived and vote based upon lies, we should see the need to leave these good sections in the Representation of the People Act.

A government that is genuinely concerned with the people’s interest will only amend laws to put citizens in a better situation. No one, not even die-hard supporters of the ULP, can honestly say that the amendment and proposed amendment is an improvement to what presently exist. Although some of these supporters realise that the Government’s move is wrong, they divert the issue by accusing concerned citizens of trying to destabilise and overthrow the Government. This is an attempt to distract us and to turn our minds away from the real issue. We must not fall for it! We must continue to lawfully protest by pen, voice and peaceful actions. We must have the attitude that caused the majority of us (57%) to kill the 2009 referendum bill. We must not allow political affiliation to blind our minds from speaking or doing that which is right.

Those with legislative authority should be seeking to create a healthier atmosphere in our country. One way to do this is to put laws in place to promote a more freedom-friendly, a more just and moral society. Where justice reigns, peace (civility) prevails.

I appeal to you politicians (who were given power in the people’s parliament by the people) in particular the Prime minister, to refrain from passing such unjust and immoral laws. Since your proposal to amend the Criminal Procedure Code and the Representation of the People Act is not intended to improve them, then leave them as they are. You don’t want to make them better. So, LEAVE them so!

Ann-Marie Ballantyne