Thursday, February 29, 2024

Freedom of speech: not in House


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BARBADOS’ DEMOCRACY is now at risk.
Opposition Leader Mia Mottley made this charge at a hastily called Press conference yesterday just after she and Member of Parliament (MP) for St Andrew, George Payne, were ejected from the Lower House during a tense and eventful morning session in which both members had heated exchanges with Speaker of the House Michael Carrington.
Mottley said the Speaker did not give her and other members of the Opposition a fair chance to articulate their views.
“Parliament in Barbados has been brought to a level that none of us has experienced before in relation to the failure to allow members the opportunity to speak. For centuries members have claimed that right to be able to speak.
“If the Speaker desires to rule a member out of order, he can do so if he wishes after they have spoken. But the right to be able to articulate your views is an ancient right, claimed on behalf of all members at the start of Parliament,” she said.
Mottley said that it was a deliberate attempt to shield the Parliament from any discussion on the need for a gun policy for Parliament and more importantly, the CLICO issue.
The Opposition Leader said the CLICO issue was of more significance to the public as over 800 people had policies which were now worthless.
She reiterated that those persons had purchased policies at a time when CLICO was not allowed to sell any new policies by the Supervisor of Insurance.
Mottley said the Speaker of the House did not allow her, George Payne or former Prime Minister Owen Arthur “to open our mouths”.
“The question that has to be asked is what is it that the Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the Speaker is so frightened about. Is it now that they understand that the Prime Minister has done a disservice as Minister of Finance to over 1 000 households, to an entire financial sector that now stands exposed because they have policies that nobody can claim now to be sold by a legal entity with lawful authority.”
Mottley made it clear the Opposition would continue to raise the issues to the people.
“The immediate thing may appear to be the expelling of ourselves and the threat to expel the others, and we will deal with that as a threat to our democracy, but it will not stop us from recognising that our continued duty must be to the Barbadian public and therefore we will act in a manner that places that at the centre of all that we do.”
Mottley said freedom of speech was now threatened, saying that even a condemned man had the right to speak before a law court.
She said she wanted to send a message to the DLP government that “you can run, but you cannot hide”.
Mottley said since January 2008 there had also been a deliberate attempt to treat former Prime Minister Owen Arthur with a level of disrespect. (MK)


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