A team of attorneys retained by the trade union movement intends to challenge the constitutionality of the sedition act before the courts.
National Trade Union Centre of T&T general secretary Michael Annisette made the announcement at a press conference Thursday, as they addressed Monday’s detention of Public Services Association (PSA) president Watson Duke by the police for sedition.
Duke is being detained for seditious intent based on statements he made in November 2018.
Duke, who was warded at the Port-of-Spain Hospital on Wednesday, was up to Thursday seeking medical treatment for high blood pressure after being officially charged with sedition.
Annisette claimed that when the police went to search the PSA’s headquarters on Monday they did not have a warrant. The police, Annisette said, also visited Duke’s home where they “terrified and terrorised” his children and seized their laptops, computers and tablets.
Annisette said NATC has consulted with a team of lawyers headed by Nyree Alfonso, “with a view of challenging before the courts the constitutionality of the Sedition Act.”
In addition to the legal challenge, Annisette said the labour movement will pen a letter to Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi to repeal the legislation, which came into force in 1920 and was now being used to “instil fear and muzzle trade unionists, freedom lovers and political activists.”
He said T&T was going back to a dictatorial state where the freedom of expressions and speech by trade union leaders and workers would now be suppressed based on the act.
“Rowley, enough is enough. You cannot be a leader as arrogant, petty, vindictive and thin-skinned. We have to look for a leader who could give as much as he can take.”
Annisette said the trade union movement will have their day on election where they will make their fingers do the talking.
He warned the Government that they while they are attempting to make Duke a “martyr or belittle him” now, someday everyone will respect him.
“We are calling on the Attorney General that if you are serious about democracy to fast track this act and get it off of the statute books. We are also going to write the AG, the ILO and international affiliates seeking their support and informing them of what is taking place.”
NATUC will also be calling on Opposition MPs and Independent Senators to raise the matter in Parliament next month.