(DNO) – Senior Counsel and government advisor, Anthony Astaphan, is shooting down concerns raised by the Dominica Freedom Party and the United Workers over a propose Anti-Terrorism Bill which will be taken to parliament next week for approval.
Both parties have raised concerns that the proposed bill will prevent ordinary citizens from exercising their constitutional right to dissent and protest.
However, Astaphan said the provisions of the Act are in keeping with legislation passed in other CARICOM and OECS countries.
“As you are aware the government intends to go to parliament with the Terrorism Bill which is in large measure a complete, a harmonized bill that being considered by other countries in the OECS and CARICOM bearing in mind the age we live in,” he told state-owned DBS Radio.
He said he heard that the Leader of the Opposition, Lennox Linton and his United Workers Party (UWP) will be having an urgent meeting to discuss Section 3 of the Act and that it should not be passed.
“And what does Section 3 really says? Section 3 creates the offence of terrorism when somebody does an act with the specific intention of, whether seeking to persuade the government or international organization through violence or intimidation which causes a threat to life or loss of life, loss of property and matters which if committed individually would constitute an offence under the existing law,” he explained. “To threaten someone or to kill someone in an act of violence, other than in self-defense is a criminal offense.”
He questioned the opposition to the proposed act.
“These guys have done nothing but seek to create turmoil and confusion in the country and they are now relying on an act intended to protect the public order and public safety of the people of the Commonwealth of Dominica,” Astaphan said. “And it begs the question, why would any political leader in his right mind would want to challenge or threaten some form of action by a parliament who wants to pass a law that is geared towards violence and intimidation and to protect the lives and liberty or property of the individual.”
He stated that the only explanation that can be ‘sensibly’ given is that “Mr. Linton wants to keep his license incite his supporters to block the Salisbury road or to carry stones and rush the barricade in the parliament.”
“The only possible objection any sane political leader would have is because he does not want that legislation passed because he wants to continue to incite violence and incite violence with impunity,” Astaphan stated. “That is not something I think the parliament or the people of this country should tolerate at all.”