PORT OF SPAIN – An Appellate Court yesterday suspended the ruling by a lower court that two sections of the Sedition Act infringe upon several rights of the citizens of Trinidad and Tobago, including the right to enjoy freedom of thought and expression, to join political parties and express political views, as well as the freedom of the press.
In a 46-page ruling handed down in January, Justice Frank Seepersad said Sections 3 and 4 of the Sedition Act were patently inconsistent and are at odds with Section 1 of the Constitution, which guarantees that Trinidad and Tobago is a sovereign, democratic state, as these provisions impose disproportionate and unjustified restrictions on free speech, expression and thought.
“In addition, they violate the rule of law, because they lack certainty, are vague and so their status as law cannot be reasonably justified in this sovereign democratic state,” he said, refusing also then to suspend his order.
But Justice of Appeal Alice Yorke-Soo Hon said she was issuing the suspension order in the interest of justice after she had been asked by lawyers representing the Office of the Attorney General to suspend the January 13 ruling of Justice Seepersad.
The Appellate Judge said that the Court had the power to suspend declaratory orders in constitutional matters if the failure to do so would lead to lawlessness and eminent social disaster.
In their arguments, the lawyers for the Attorney General’s Office had argued that the Court should preserve the status quo while the parties sought clarity on the constitutionality of the law which was enacted in 1920. (CMC)