Monday 21 January, 2019

Give police the power to arrest vote buyers, urges Comissiong

President of the Clement Payne Movement, David Comissiong.

President of the Clement Payne Movement, David Comissiong.

President of the Clement Payne Movement, David Comissiong, wants to see politicians guilty of vote buying behind bars. 

In a press release issued today, he warned that "the exchange of hundred dollar bills for votes has now become a standard practice in Barbadian general elections, and if this corrupt practice is not brought to an end, it will eventually totally destroy the public or civic life of our nation!"

Stressing that "politicians and their henchmen descend upon working-class communities and seek to bribe electors," over the past two General Elections, he asserted that "this corrupt practice has resulted in thousands of young Barbadians forming the impression that many, if not most, politicians - including some men and women who get elected to Parliament and some of those who go on to hold ministerial office - are no more than tawdry hustlers and con-men!"

The social activist further warned that this practice is causing people to lose respect for their leaders, as well as the "idealism and moral values" which have uplifted the nation, while "threatening to subvert the integrity of our electoral system and by extension, our entire system of governance."

 

He therefore called for the prevention of vote buying to be viewed as a national priority, highlighting sections of the Election Offences And Controversies Act, which states that both the buyer and seller of a vote is guilty of an offense: 

" (1) A person is guilty of a corrupt practice who is guilty of bribery.

  (2) A person is guilty of bribery who, directly or indirectly, by himself or by any other person on his behalf 

   (a) gives any money..... to any elector or to...any other person on behalf of any elector...in order to induce any elector to vote or refrain from voting;

 (5) Any elector is guilty of bribery who, before or during an election, directly or indirectly by himself or by any other person on his behalf, receives, agrees to receive, or contracts for any money, gift, loan, or valuable consideration...for voting or agreeing to vote or for refraining or agreeing to refrain from voting "

 

Comissiong lamented that the "Act does not go on to stipulate that offenders are to be fined or imprisoned - except in the very limited and restricted case of persons who indulge in this corrupt practice on the public road or in a public place, on Election Day (during the hours that the poll is open), and within 100 yards of a polling station." 

This is why he is calling on the governing Democratic Labour Party (DLP) and the Opposition, Barbados Labour Paty (BLP), to urgently introduce a Bill in Parliament which will give the Royal Barbados Police Force (RBPF) the power to address this issue during the General Election due in 2018. 

"I now wish to  publicly challenge the thirty members of the House of Assembly and their political parties - the DLP and the BLP - to take immediate steps to introduce a Bill in Parliament to amend the Election Offences and Controversies Act in order to attach the penalty of a fine and a period of imprisonment for anyone found guilty of the corrupt practice of bribery, whenever and wherever that offense may be carried out during the entire official period of an election campaign."

He also urged the RBPF to be proactive, by "putting together a number of motorized 'flying squads' in marked and unmarked police vehicles, to carry out rapid anti-vote buying surveillance missions in all relevant communities during the last week of campaigning and on polling day in particular."

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