By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
SENATOR Ranard Henfield, head of the We March protest movement, is urging the Minnis administration to give the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association power over the so-called "Spy Bill" before having it tabled in Parliament.
Attorney Fred Smith, head of the GBHRA, has called the Interceptions of Communications Bill a "political suicide bill."
"I personally haven't seen the Bill but I've discussed it with the deputy prime minister and Fred Smith," Mr Henfield said yesterday. "I take the Grand Bahama Human Rights Association's lead because they've been concerned about it. During my meeting with the Deputy Prime Minister (K Peter Turnquest), I requested that rather than have the Bill tabled, provide it to the GBHA and let them take lead with it. If they have an issue with it they would express it properly and make recommendations. The deputy prime minister seemed receptive to that and he will speak with the attorney general about it."
Earlier this year, The Tribune revealed how the Christie administration quietly tabled the Interception of Communications Bill in February.
After pushback, the Bill was withdrawn.
The We March movement came out strongly against the Christie administration's Bill.
"If they pass this Bill, we won't ever be able to organise another march or protest," the group said earlier this year.
However, a planned protest against the Bill was cancelled after it was pulled.
In response to the Bill's revocation, Mr Henfield, in a Facebook post, said in February: "While this may seem like a victory for all of us that spoke up, stood up and are prepared to march, let us not for a moment think the government will not try and bring this Bill up again before elections or after elections if they win. Stay ready to apply even more pressure if they refuse to take our suggestions and amendments over the next few days."
Critics have said the We March organisation is aligned with the FNM. Its response to the controversial communications Bill will likely be compared to how it handled the Progressive Liberal Party's decision to propose the bill.
The legislation proposed by the Christie administration sought to create a “single legal framework” that would have allowed the commissioner of police to obtain a warrant from a judge to intercept and examine a person’s communications from telecommunications operators, internet providers and postal services for a period of three months.
This would have been done in the “interest of national security,” which was defined in the Bill as protecting the country from “threats of sabotage, espionage, terrorist acts, terrorism or subversion.”
The legislation called for the “interception of all communications networks regardless of whether they are licensed as public or not.”
Intercepting, among other provisions, would have included the use of a “monitoring device,” physically viewing/inspecting the contents of any communication and diverting any communication from its intended destination, the Bill notes.
When this was revealed in February, the GBHRA condemned the plan, saying the proposed Bill would have impeded civil liberties. The Christie administration withdrew the legislation and lost the May general election.
Attorney General Carl Bethel has said a revised form of the Bill is among the early Bills the Free National Movement intends to table in Parliament.