By Leonard Gildarie
Kaieteur News – Two stories in this publication caught my attention yesterday. One had to do with an apology to Chair of the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), Justice (Ret’d) Claudette Singh, and the other…a further relaxation in the COVID-19 measures.
The apology caught me by surprise. I have spoken to the GECOM chair from time to time. She abhors the spotlight. She would prefer to work in the system.
However, the work of the chair of GECOM, in Guyana’s context, can never be out of the spotlight.
The five months after the March 2nd elections were eye-openers. For several reasons. I saw desperation that I could never believe existed in our midst.
The pantomimes of court actions were just simply unbelievable. The delaying tactics were being witnessed by a world fixated with the Coronavirus pandemic.
Politicians and their minions, on all sides, created fake accounts on social media, and went after all and sundry.
During our radio shows, it became highly evident. Viewers and listeners alike were attacked for expressing a contrarian view. In fact, the racist comments were to the point of sickening.
One of them our administrators had to block was under the name of ‘Raheem Raahman’ on Facebook.
I remembered this one distinctly as there were heated debates on the use of that name. They are said to be Arabic words that speak of holy things to the Muslim world.
Yet, this account was anything but holy.
The administrators exercised their prerogative and blocked ‘Raheem Raahman’.
The person was obnoxious to the core.
I am not sure why someone would want to hide their identity. If you are proud of your political and other affiliations, don’t be afraid.
I would want to believe that everyone has convictions that are so strong that they are proud of the political parties they are attached to.
In the case of the Madam Chair, the charge is serious. It pushed the retired judge to file a complaint.
The police, using its Cybercrime Unit, was able to identify a face and name…Ryan Williams of Wismar, Linden, Region 10.
According to Kaieteur News, he was charged on July 20, 2020, for using a computer system under the name “Raheem Raahman”. He was accused of threatening the GECOM Chair and her family between July 13, 2020 and July 14, 2020, at Wismar Linden.
According to the report, under the fictitious name, Williams made a post stating, “If you Claudette Singh think you will declare fraudulent votes so that the PPP will win, well think again bcuz you and everybody in ur house will [email protected]#$ing dead.”
Williams, according to the report, initially denied the charge and was released on $500,000, bail.
As a condition for the charge to be dropped against him, as requested by Justice Singh, Williams wrote a letter titled “RE: Formal Apology for Unacceptable Post Made on Facebook.”
Williams admitted that the Facebook account under the name ‘Raheem Raahman’ was created and exclusively controlled by himself.
He told the Chair that the threats to her life were reckless and irresponsible… “I take complete responsibility for my posts and wish to convey my sincerest apology to you and your family for the pain and any harm the threats would have caused.”
Williams is said to be the first person to be charged under the Cyber Crime Act, Section 2, Chapter 19:1(b), “using a computer system to coerce, harass, intimidate or humiliate a person”. The nature of the charge alleged that, with intent to compel the GECOM Chair to do an act, which she is not legally bound to or to abstain from doing the act which she has a legal right to do, Williams allegedly threatened her and her family by using a computer system to publish or transmit computer data.
I tried to bring you the details as much of it as possible. What struck me was the fact that it was the GECOM chair who reached across to have the charge dropped, once there is an apology from Williams. He was forced to publish the letter of apology in the newspapers.
Cyber bullying is a serious matter. This past week, Guyana dealt with the devastating suicide of a teenaged son of a politician. I pray that no parent will ever have to go through that again.
Guyana may want closure. Did our systems fail? What can we do to correct this?
The second issue had to do with the further relaxation of the curfew.
In new measures announced Friday by the Health Ministry, schools, according to the report that was published in this newspaper, will be allowed to open for the 2021 Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) and the Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) students, given that all necessary guidelines mandated are implemented.
In recent days, the Ministry of Education has been engaged in deep discussions about the reopening of schools with both teachers and parents to come up with measures and solutions that ensure efficient learning and safety, the report says.
The curfew moved from 9:00pm- 4:00am to 10:30pm- 04:00am.
The adjustments are also to gyms…it must not be filled beyond 50 percent.
Restaurants with outdoor dining, delivery services/curbside pick-up, gas stations, postal and shipping services, salons and barber shops, automotive repair shops and clothes, shoes and book stores can now operate from 4:00am to 9:30pm.
Strict restrictions on indoor dining, social gatherings and the opening of rum shops and bars remain.
The new measures are for November.
It is important to recognize that this government has taken some bold steps.
They recently allowed airlines to start operations again, but under controlled circumstances with PCR test results mandated before passengers can travel.
We are facing tough times. There can be controlled measures that will allow some semblance of business activities, but these have to be followed to the tee.
There are also talks to monitor all patients testing positive for COVID-19, using a tracking app which raised alarm bells if that person leaves his or her home will under isolation.
The fact is that our borders are open and people are coming.
The fact is Europe and several parts of the US are battling a second wave. The cases are increasing, the numbers are climbing.
The news that the Cheddi Jagan International Airport has reported not one case from incoming passengers, says a lot. It means that systems can help.
The two issues are food for thought.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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