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Govt, opposition weigh in on proposed life sentence, hefty fines for election offences


(Demerara Waves) The opposition Alliance For Change (AFC) and A New and United Guyana (ANUG) disagree with the GY$10 million fines and life imprisonment for a number of election offences but the government said attempts to cheat an election amount to toppling an elected government.

ANUG Chairman, Attorney-at-Law Timothy Jonas said the way the proposed amendments to the Representation of the People Act (RoPA) are crafted as strict liability offences rather than in a way that allows a court to determine whether accused persons have knowledge or intend to commit an offence. “There is nothing here that talks about knowingly or fraudulently or with knowledge. This is strict liability…That goes past draconian. That is representative of the culture in our society that makes us think that if we have a heavy hand we can stop crime,” he said.

Mr. Jonas instead recommended that there be fairness, transparency and simplicity. The ANUG Chairman, for his part, argued that the RoPA should be amended to allow for the posting of the statements of poll on GECOM’s website because over the decades the existing law has worked well. Under such a system, he said political parties, the media and the wider public would be able to see the “live” statements of poll on GECOM’s website. “That will diffuse any nonsensical attempts when it becomes more centralised and all the Statements of Poll go to one individual who can corrupt it, it makes his life much more difficult because, when he is going through his process in collating the Statements of Poll, the whole country knows the result already,” he said.

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