DRP CALLS FOR REPEAL OF CYBERCRIMES ACT 2016 AND
AMENDMENT OF OTHER CRIMINAL LAWS REGARDING SPEECH
In the face of the passage of the Cybercrimes Act 2016, the Democratic Republican Party (DRP) is calling for Repeal of the Cybercrimes Act 2016 and for SVG to go back to the drawing board to develop proper Cybercrimes law which does not damage fundamental freedoms and at the same time create loopholes for cybercriminals to escape.
Political leader of the DRP Anesia Baptiste maintains that her continual research on Cybercrimes Laws worldwide reveals that there are serious and fundamental problems with the HIPCAR model law which was the basis of our Cybercrimes Act 2016. “Our discussion with legal, international experts unearths a host of problems with this model: from weak language used in the drafting of the law which potentially promotes cybercrimes rather than protects against them, inconsistencies with the Budapest Convention in terms of language and offences, to contradictions with international best practices in definitions of cybercrimes offences, which will make it difficult to achieve international cooperation in the fight against cybercrimes.”, says Baptiste.
The DRP believes that the government’s rush to enact the law, giving limited time and no quality opportunity to have proper public study and scrutiny of the bill, suggests a hidden evil agenda for its use. The parliamentary debates from the governments’ side of the house also reveal efforts to mislead the public about the law in its current form; attempting to sell it as a law which protects children from cyberbullying when rather it will criminalize children for freedom of speech, criminalize the truth and generally breed a thin-skinned society in SVG. This is in addition to the chilling effect on freedom of expression, the press and information, which the revival of usage of the archaic and draconian criminal libel law will have on journalism and whistleblowing.
A DRP lead government commits to the following:
- The repeal of Cybercrimes Act 2016
- Revision of and passage of proper Cybercrimes legislation, following internationally accepted best practice standards.
- Repeal of Criminal Libel provisions from our Criminal Code (Chapter 27 from section 274.)
- Reform of other provisions which unjustifiably criminalize speech, including the repeal of criminal seditious words (51, 52) and amendments where necessary to only criminalize threats to murder and violence against the person and or property. Unclear provisions such as Insult and Blasphemy laws will also be repealed.
- Establish a Law reform Commission to research, study and recommend to parliament general and genuine law reform in SVG, to create greater protection for the inalienable and constitutionally guaranteed rights and freedoms of ALL the people and to pursue justice.
- Strengthen our legal drafting department and work for stronger laws in SVG.
The DRP also rejects Q. C. Parnell Campbell’s legally unrationalized statements that the Cybercrimes Act is constitutional and feels it exposes the incompetence of his opinion on this point, even after years of legal experience which he boasts. For example, in Trinidad and Tobago a similar Cybercrimes bill which contains online criminal libel and a similar vague cyberbullying definition (as in our Act) is described as unconstitutional by those who tabled the bill. It reads in its introduction: “The Bill would be inconsistent with sections 4 and 5 of the Constitution and is therefore required to be passed by a special majority of three-fifths of the members of each House”. Section 4 of T&T’s constitution outlines fundamental rights and freedoms such as freedom of expression and here they are acknowledging that the bill itself has elements which render it unconstitutional and they are requiring a higher threshold for it to pass. The DRP believes in such a case the unconstitutional provisions should be completely struck out. Baptiste asked, “How can a legal luminary of 40 years of experience, such as a Q.C., fail to see such blatant contradictions of the Cybercrimes Act with our own Constitution?” “Instead of being watchmen for the sanity of laws in the country, they act as boogiemen destroying the legal integrity of the country by their unfounded comments”, asserted the DRP leader.
The DRP will continue to call for the repeal of the Cybercrimes Act 2016 and for law reform in this Country for the protection of the people’s inalienable rights and freedoms, genuine crime fighting and solving and for Justice for ALL.