We the undersigned, demand the Government of the Bahamas KILL THE BILL - The Interception of Communications Bill (ICB), 2017 (Known locally as The Spy Bill) until such time as there has been sufficient public consultation.
Across the Bahamas, civil society organizations, legal experts and prominent individuals warn that in its current form, the Bahamas proposed Interception of Communications Bill, 2017 may violate every citizen's constitutionally protected right to privacy and strike a mortal blow to civil liberties in general.
While accepting that effective law enforcement requires modern surveillance capacities, in its current form, the Bill is extreme, draconian and may lead to a situation in which nobody's intimate life will be free from scrutiny anymore.
A potentially dangerous component of the proposed ICB is the inclusion of the word 'subversion' as a reason that information of private citizens can be accessed. Subversion is a general term and could be used to describe what is nothing more than dissent. In the broadest definition this could be used to victimize those who speak out against government (present and future) policy spending and decision making. This Bill must be reviewed by independent legal experts, civil society and the public to ensure that it cannot be used to quiet the voice of the Bahamian public.
The recent Freedom of Information Act, which relates to another fundamental right - that of access to information - was afforded years for drafting and public consultation prior to it's tabling and debate. However, the Interception of Communication Bill which could threaten the fundamental right of privacy has been tabled with no notification or any public consultation. There is no clear reason why a Bill that may have an impact on all those who live and work in The Bahamas should be passed in a matter of days with no public discussion.
In order to strike a balance between law enforcement and civil liberties, there must be deliberate consultation, thought and proper time for people to consider it, to look at what legislation has been proposed in other jurisdictions, how it’s working in other countries, to what extent it has or has not been abused.
We call on the Government to desist from its current effort to rush the Bill through parliament without public consultation or information sharing.
This petition is endorsed by the following organizations.
reEarth, Rights Bahamas, The Grand Bahama Human Rights Association, Our Carmichael, We March, Citizens for a Better Bahamas, WE the People, Rise Bahamas, Organization for Responsible Government, The Nassau Institute
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