President Irfaan Ali, just over a month in office, has vowed a crackdown on race hate rhetoric on social media. Making it clear that he will not accept the promotion of such rhetoric, he said in a statement yesterday that he remains unequivocally committed to governing the country and its people, regardless of political affiliation or ethnic origin.
“It deeply grieves me, therefore,” President Ali said, “when I see almost every day on social media, the degree of race baiting, racial hate and racial hostility which pervades the social media platforms. I want you to know that it is my determination to do everything within my power and to use all the laws at my disposal, to put an end to this behaviour, which can only result in dividing our country and our people.”
In recent weeks and months, there has been an increasing number of complaints filed to the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) with persons also noting a significant number of bullying cases.
“The use of social media,” the President stated, “for the promotion of racial hate for political purpose is wholly unacceptable to me as your President and as a person, and my government will not tolerate it. I have spoken with my Attorney General and I have directed him to ensure that the full force of our laws is employed and is applied to those who pursue this criminal behaviour.”
Ali, whose first month has been troubled with violent West Berbice protests this past week following the murder of two teenage cousins, Isaiah and Joel Henry, reminded those persons guilty of this abuse of social media, that freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution as a fundamental right and freedom, does not relate nor extend to hate speeches or other expressions, in whatever form, capable of exciting hostility or ill-will against any person or class of persons.
“I further remind,” The President stated, “that such conduct, publications and utterances constitute grievous criminal offences under the Racial Hostilities, Cybercrime and other similar penal legislation and the state will not hesitate to resort to these provisions in our laws in appropriate circumstances.”
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