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Wednesday 18 September 2019
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Young: No change to Sedition Act

National Security Minister Stuart Young at yesterday’s post-Cabinet briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.
National Security Minister Stuart Young at yesterday’s post-Cabinet briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.

THE Sedition Act will not be updated Stuart Young, National Security Minister, told yesterday’s post-Cabinet briefing at the Diplomatic Centre, St Ann’s.

He spoke as he revealed the police were charging PSA head Watson Duke on one count of the offence and hours after trade unionists had alleged the act was being abused in Duke’s case.

Newsday asked if the Government might take a test case to court to clear the air on the extent of the act.

Young said activist Devant Maharaj may be challenging the act in court, but the Government is not reviewing it.

“That is something separate. The Sedition Act has been applied. Sedition has been in existence from time immemorial.”

He said the act dated from before the Constitution and was now kept by the savings clause (which constitutional rights do not annul colonial-era laws.)

“The courts will deal with that. At this stage, in my view, it is on the books. It exists.”

He said it is only the Police Service which may utilise the act (and not politicians).

“I am seeing certain political opponents and others suggesting it is the Government behind recent sedition charges. Again as the Minister of National Security, I can say here categorically that at no point in time was any instruction given or did I interfere with any police investigation.

“I was just told before coming in here, for example, that the DPP has given instructions or given clearance for Mr Duke to be charged with one count of sedition.”

Newsday asked if was feeling a public call to revise the act.

“I am not the Government. We don’t do things on the whim and fancy of ‘I have a feeling.’

“So the answer is no. As I told you before, categorically, that is not currently before us. We are not addressing it.”

Told that Natuc lamented it was a colonial act, Young retorted, “At this stage the Government is not looking at the Sedition Act, and any reform of it, repeal of it, or any thing like that. It remains on the books, like many other laws. I am happy to see a police service that is enforcing the laws of TT.”

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