Leader of the Alliance For Change (AFC), Raphael Trotman said the party’s Parliamentarians are prepared to vote against the sedition clause if it remains part of the Cybercrime Bill when it is returned to Parliament for passage.
Clause 18.1 has been subjected to growing public criticisms following the release of a report from the bi-partisan Parliamentary Special Select Committee which reviewed the Bill. It was tabled by Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams.
“I can say that as presently constructed, I, as Leader of the AFC, cannot support Clause 18.1 in the Bill and will therefore be urging for an amendment, and if none is forthcoming, I will vote against it,” Trotman informed Kaieteur News.
According to Trotman, the issues surrounding the Bill were not formally discussed at the AFC National Executive Committee meeting on Tuesday. However, Trotman said that he took the opportunity to canvass the views of several members.
He expressed confidence that his views are held by most, if not all, of the party’s executive members.
The overall thrust of the Bill is to make illegal, certain activities undertaken using a computer and the internet, such as child pornography, cyber bullying, theft of data, and revenge porn among others.
However, there are concerns about aspects of the Bill, which was tabled by Attorney General, Basil Williams. The most contentious is Section 18 (1) (a) of the Bill which indicates that a person commits the offence of sedition if he brings or attempts to bring into hatred or contempt, or excites or attempts to excite disaffection towards the Government established by law in Guyana.
According to Section 18 (1), a person can commit the offence whether in or out of Guyana by intentionally publishing, transmitting or circulating by use of a computer system or any other means, a statement or words, either spoken or written, a text, video, image, sign, visible representation, or other thing.
The penalty ranges from four months in prison to a life sentence where death occurs.
It is widely believed that any sitting Government could use the clause to curtail freedom of expression and silence critics.
Trotman explained that he has been the subject of intense criticism and attacks over the past months, and by extension, so too the Government.
“I have chosen not to lash out, but to take my blows and to continue working, knowing that the truth will make its way into the public domain eventually and the Government’s positions will be better understood and accepted,” Trotman noted.
He added, “This is 2018 and so we must recognise that this is the age of enlightenment and expression. Even though we do not always agree with many of the views and opinions against us, yet we ought to respect the freedom to make them and be very circumspect when we come to stifling it. “
According to Trotman, Clause 18.1 is not what modern and open government and democracy are all about.
However, he believes there should always be the crimes of treason and sedition, but the burden of proof for these should be a high and heavy one and not be based on a few social media or op-ed comments that are brutally critical.
Local transparency watchdog, Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. (TIGI), and social activist Ruel Johnson, have called for the scrapping of the clause in the Bill.
Williams had indicated that nothing is wrong with the Bill. However, the Government has indicated that the Bill will be returned to Cabinet for further discussions.
A report from the committee was tabled in Parliament last Thursday. It showed that while several amendments were proposed, the sedition clause was untouched.
Government Members on the committee included Basil Williams, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, who tabled the Bill; Khemraj Ramjattan, Minister of Public Security; Nicolette Henry, Minister of Education; Michael Carrington and Audwin Rutherford.
The opposition members on the committee were Gail Teixeira, Chief Whip; Clement Rohee; Anil Nandlall and Gillian Persaud. Nandlall has stated that the sedition clause has no place in modern Guyana.
Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo stated on Monday that the People’s Progressive party (PPP) members dropped the ball in highlighting the sedition clause in the bill.
May 27, 2020The Guyana Boxing Association (GBA) was on Monday informed that the four boxers stranded in Cuba have been given approval to return to Guyana. This information was given during informal discussion...
May 26, 2020
May 26, 2020
May 25, 2020
May 25, 2020
May 25, 2020
With less than half the votes completed so far in the recounting project, Joe Harmon, (the only man in history who insinuated... more
By Sir Ronald Sanders Caribbean countries are, once again, being placed in a difficult position as they try to navigate... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: [email protected] / [email protected]