You are here
Fitun: Suspend the debate on giving soldiers ‘powers’
The Federation of Independent Trade Unions (Fitun) and several non-government organisations are insisting that soldiers should not be given powers of arrest. Fitun’s president Joseph Remy wrote an open letter to MPs yesterday asking them to consider the adverse implications of the proposed move. Remy said the request was particularly directed at Independent senators.
The Defence (Amendment) Bill, which seeks to give the soldiers powers of arrest, was presented for debate in the House of Representatives on Friday by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan. He said the measure was intended to give legal effect to what already exists in joint police/army patrols. But the Opposition, the police, the chairman of the of the Police Service Commission Prof Ramesh Deosaran and the director of the Police Complaints Authority Gillian Lucky have expressed concern about the legislation.
The Section 34 Roundtable grouping, which includes the Opposition People’s National Movement, the Movement for Social Justice (MSJ) and several other civil-society groups, was due to hold a public meeting in St James last night to mobilise the population against the measure. Remy in his letter said there was too much at stake and the views of the wider population must be heard. He said the Government should consider suspending debate on the legislation to allow for further discussions, and if they refuse to do that, “the Independent Senators in the Upper House must in the interest of the country ensure that this bill is defeated.”
He said Fitun felt the legislation was not properly thought out. Remy said by bestowing the powers of arrest on soldiers , they would indirectly be under the control of the Minister of National Security. “It is untenable in any democratic society for a politician, and this particular minister, to have such control over the military forces,” Remy wrote. “The Government must pull back this bill. What is required at this time is greater dialogue on the issue with all stakeholders and sectors of society, in particular civil-society organisations such as ours.”
Debate on the legislation is expected to resume in Parliament tomorrow.
User comments posted on this website are the sole views and opinions of the comment writer and are not representative of Guardian Media Limited or its staff. Guardian Media Limited accepts no liability and will not be held accountable for user comments.
Please help us keep out site clean from inappropriate comments by using the flag option.
Guardian Media Limited reserves the right to remove, to edit or to censor any comments. Any content which is considered unsuitable, unlawful or offensive, includes personal details, advertises or promotes products, services or websites or repeats previous comments will be removed.