Opposition says Whistleblower legislation “unconstitutional”; threatens to sue

Home*Cover Story*News

Opposition says Whistleblower legislation “unconstitutional”; threatens to sue

The Opposition United National Congress (UNC) has signalled its intention to challenge the Whistleblower Protection Bill in court.

Senator Wade Mark, speaking in the Senate on Tuesday night during a debate on the bill, said: “The minute the President signs off on the bill, the Opposition would meet the Attorney General in a place he’s familiar with. This bill is unconstitutional, illegal and invalid and must be challenged in the courts. I give you that undertaking!”

Attorney General Reginald Armour had assured the Opposition that regulations for the bill would be subjected to affirmative action with active Parliament debate. He said the proportionality of the bill was evident in ensuring controls by giving protection to whistleblowers.

Mark, however, questioned how it could be put into law where a person might be falsely accusing someone of something and the whistleblower could be protected from civil, criminal or disciplinary action. Mark said the bill required at least a two-thirds majority vote for passage.

He also stated that a PNM whistleblower could set up someone and “Your name jumping up out there! The Government is using Parliament to weaponise law. You can’t take the PNM whistleblower to court but they can mash you up as this bill gives carte blanche coverage to the whistleblower at the expense of people they’re anonymously reporting on.”

Opposition Senator Dr Tim Gopeesingh asked, “Will journalists be protected under this law? Will the whistleblower who gives them information be protected? We’ve seen media houses being searched after publishing certain stories, seen a Prime Minister going to a media house after an announcer said something against them.”

Independent Senator Anthony Vieira said it remains to be seen if the bill will become practice or remain ink on paper.

He called for an environment which changed the perception of whistleblowers being seen as “snitches” and recognised as valuable contributors to integrity and public trust.