The Progressive Democratic Patriots (PDP) says this country’s Sedition Act should be changed.
This after their leader and president of the Public Services’ Association, Watson Duke, was charged under the law for statements he made last November.
Duke was released on $250,000 bail after appearing before Port-of-Spain Magistrate Adia Mohammed yesterday morning.
In a statement on the matter, the PDP said it “is resolved in fighting the senseless sedition laws that remain as a vestige of our colonial past.”
It said the law was “totalitarianism enshrined in law” and the Government was using it “to hush the mouth of its critics.”
“We have sufficient laws to deal with terrorism, discrimination and even treason. There is no need for a law that provides the opportunity for an oppressive government to jail you just because you excite members of the public to become disaffected with the abuses of said government.”
It questioned why former Assemblyman Hilton Sandy was not locked up in 2013 under the sedition law for statements he made then.
“If Minority Leader Duke was being seditious for his statement of 2018, then Hilton Sandy’s seditious Calcutta Ship rant must also be condemned and prosecuted as such,” the party said.
It said the law prevented freedom of speech.
“It (the law) has everything to do with your right to freedom of speech. That right translates into your right to be even damn rude. Such freedom only comes to a halt for libel/slander or terrorism.”
It warned that if the law is not changed other persons can be charged.
“Our democracy requires that we all stand together against this obscene affront on our democracy. Today it is Watson Duke; tomorrow will be you,” the PDP said.
The party also expressed relief that Duke, who is also leader of the Tobago House of Assembly’s Minority Council, had received bail and pledged that he will continue “fighting for the disadvantaged people of Trinidad and Tobago.”
On November 16, 2018, Duke, allegedly said: “We must be prepared to die, folks, You know why? This is your belief, this is your family, and I am sending the message clear, let Rowley them know that the day they come for us in WASA, we are prepared to die and the morgue would be picking up people.”