Sun | May 20, 2018

Blind injustice! Opposition senator angered after government senators deny him time to review changes

Published:Sunday | November 12, 2017 | 12:00 AMEdmond Campbell
Opposition Senator Dr Floyd Morris making a contribution during a recent sitting of the Senate.

Controversy continues to follow the passage of the National Identification Registration Act as a marathon sitting of the Senate last Friday was marred by a dispute over a Privilege Motion moved by opposition lawmaker Dr Floyd Morris.

The motion was voted down by 11 government senators, effectively saying no to the blind senator, who requested a suspension of debate on the bill to allow him time to review pages of new amendments tabled at the start of the sitting.

Immediately following the vote on the motion, Morris rose and walked out of the Senate in protest.

Morris later told The Sunday Gleaner that the vote against his motion was a slap in the face of the disabled community in Jamaica.

"It is sad that members would vote against another member in terms of his privilege to access information. I don't think the senators understand what they have done.

"It is a vote against my right as a person with disability to access information in an accessible format and on a timely basis."

 

VIOLATION OF RIGHTS

 

Before he walked out, Morris, in his earlier contribution to the debate, argued that the Senate was a review chamber and not a bill-drafting chamber.

"This is a violation of my rights as a senator. It is a matter that I treat very seriously because it is happening too often.

"I have to make sure that I am able to compare and contrast the various amendments that are being proposed, and right now it is posing a major difficulty for me, and that is a violation of my privilege as a senator," he charged.

According to Morris, in his 15 years in the Upper House he had never experienced "this sort of shambolic approach to review of legislation".

He said this approach to debating and passing legislation had become the new norm.

"As a senator in this Parliament, I have certain rights, I have certain privileges. A part of those rights is access to documentation and access in an accessible format and timely basis," he continued.

edmond.campbell@gleanerjm.com