St Vincent Teachers Union Calls On Government To Halt Cyber Crime Bill

svgtuThe St Vincent and the Grenadines Teachers’ Union (SVGTU) calls on the government of St Vincent and the Grenadines to put a halt on the Cyber Crime Bill 2016 which is currently before our Parliament. We have studied the proposal contained in this Bill and are very concerned about many clauses, particularly those that interfere with our freedom of expression as embedded under section 10 of our Country’s Constitution.
We join with other concerned citizens and an expanding range of reputable regional and international organizations that have signified concern and raised alarm over clause 16, which they have deemed highly objectionable, as well as many other elements of the bill which infringe upon freedom of speech and, hence, are unjustifiable in a democratic society.

The SVGTU fully embraces efforts to protect the right to free, responsible speech, particularly for our citizens in cyber space. In this regard, the Union notes and welcomes those elements of the Bill that provide for the continued outlawing or criminalization of child pornography, computer related theft, fraud and malicious interference with critical cyber technology and infrastructure.
However, as afore-mentioned our Union joins the call by other citizens and agencies for the Government of St. Vincent and the Grenadines to completely review and revise all aspects of the Bill that could adversely affect the exercise of free speech, the flow of information and, as a consequence, criminalize harmless online activities.

The SVGTU is also concerned with the indecent haste with which the government is seeking to rush this Bill into law. The SVGTU is disappointed that the Government did not think it prudent to widen its consultation to involve the participation of members of our Union, given the importance of the grouping of citizens who are integrally involved in shaping the minds of our nation’s youth(s).
We strongly believe that a healthy maturing democracy must introduce laws which do not unnecessarily and disproportionately interfere with our Constitutional rights and freedoms. We also believe that by its very nature the Cybercrime Bills requires more widespread discussion as it touches and concerns a core value of our socio-political development.
And, with this view our Union makes a strong call on the government to rethink its hurried passage of the Cybercrime Bill. An inclusive consultative process and a review of the troubling clauses can only benefit the citizens of our blessed Hairouna.

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