Douglas Cries Foul: claims opposition denied the right to debate amendments to Drug Act
By: Tito Chapman
The St. Kitts and Nevis Labour Party Leader and Leader of the Opposition, the Right Hon Dr Denzil L, Douglas blasted Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon Michael Perkins and Prime Minister Timothy Harris for colluding in shutting out the parliamentary opposition on Wednesday from making a contribution on the Drugs (Amendment) Bill 2019 by starting the house earlier than what was communicated.
Via Freedom FM, Labour Parliamentarians expressed that they were told Wednesday morning that debate would resume later in the afternoon at 1.30 pm.
However, the House resumed earlier and the Speaker allowed Dr. Harris, the mover of the legislation to wrap up the debate although several members of the government benches had not made presentations.
In his short statement on Freedom, Douglas said:
I want to make it absolutely clear to the general public that the government including the speaker were very dishonest in allowing the parliament start before 1:30 this afternoon when this morning when parliamentarians were present they told us that the parliament was adjourned until 1.30 this afternoon. I believe it was deliberate, dishonest, very deceptive on the part of the mover of the bill, the prime minister Dr. Harris and his colleagues and the Speaker in particular to have started the continuation of the debate as we were told yesterday and this morning at 1.30 when in fact they did not have any intention of allowing members of the opposition to speak
Douglas opined that the bill does not speak to the issues that continue to confront the people with regard to the use of marijuana in St Kitts and Nevis.
The Labour Party is of the belief that the Team Unity Government has no intention really of changing the status quo following the ruling of High Court Judge Eddy Ventose.
According to Douglas, what transpired in the National Assembly on Tuesday and Wednesday is a clear indication that the prime minister intends to maintain the status quo of continuing to arrest persons who are using marijuana.
The decriminalization that they speak about is a joke. Within this very piece of legislation debated Tuesday and Wednesday, it states very clearly the penalties that will be meted out for persons who violate by being in possession of more than 15 grams and are caught smoking in certain areas will be immediately fined. If you cannot pay that fine you will be asked to do some form of community work. If you cannot pay the fine or refuse to pay, you will be sent to prison. No matter how long is the prison sentence, it is still a prison sentence.
Douglas pointed out that the society will continue to condemn those persons as being unfit for society and will continue to have a criminal record so:
Nothing would have changed. What we have seen by Dr Harris and his government is a very feeble attempt to respond to a court order that was given from the High Court. If there was no order from the court, all of the talk and the hype that this Team Unity government would have created about changing its attitude towards marijuana would have come to nought, but because of the judgment as a result of the civil suit brought against the government by Ras Sankofa in defence of his human rights, the government went into parliament yesterday and made a very feeble attempt to respond to the court order.