After weeks of public debate, concerns being expressed and even promises from the opposition United National Congress to bring a repeal law to Parliament, the government is now in the process of reviewing the Sedition Act with an aim to make changes.
But Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi is making it clear there is a need for such laws, and so an appropriate replacement must be decided upon.
AG Al-Rawi told Guardian Media that the now contentious Sedition Act is under review at the Law Revision Committee as well as at the Law Reform Commission. He has already received a white paper on it.
However, Al-Rawi posed a question to all those who are calling for the law to be removed from our law books, that is: What will replace it?
“More public sector interaction is required because you haven’t heard a single proponent say what should replace the law. All you’ve heard are people saying get rid of it and what’s next?”
He argued that countries like India and Singapore, for example, have tried repealing such laws and were forced to keep it.
AG Al-Rawi said in a country such as Trinidad and Tobago where there was a 1970 uprising and a 1990 attempted coup, there is a need for sedition laws.
The recent debate on sedition arose after Watson Duke, President of the Public Services Association, PSA was charged with one count for statements he made while addressing WASA workers.
Since then several attorneys, activists, union leaders, current and former politicians have expressed the desire to have the law scrapped.
Opposition Leader Kamla Persad Bissessar has already submitted a notice of the Sedition Repeal Act to all Members of Parliament which she intends to bring to the Parliament under a private motion.
At a news conference two weeks ago Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley said he was open to a review of the legislation.
He also denied that his government had any involvement in who gets charged under the Sedition Act.