Sedition has no place in a democracy – GCCI

first_imgCyber Crimes Bill outragelthough Government seems to be unmoved over criticisms of the Cyber Crimes Bill, specifically as it relates to the seditious clause, more organisations and individuals continue to speak out against the move to place an archaic piece of law which in their opinion could affect freedom of expression in Guyana.GCCI President Deodat IndarJoining them is the Georgetown Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GCCI) which has expressed its concern over Section 18 of the Bill, which provides a structure for the charge of sedition. The GCCI believes sedition as an offence impinges on an individual’s right to criticise and has no place in a democracy.“As an institution dedicated to advocacy, we stress that the right to freedom of expression is not only a right but a community responsibility. Therefore, we call on all legislators to remove Section 18(1) A of the Cyber Crimes Bill and urge that this Bill remain free of oppressive and archaic charge of sedition, “it said.The Chamber is of the view that freedom of speech and expression of views through debate, discourse and discussion underpin a healthy democracy and foster a conducive environment for development. It is under these grounds they think Government should give serious consideration to removing that clause.However, the organisation said Wednesday that its support the overall intent of the Cyber Crimes Bill which is currently before the National Assembly. They said the overall thrust of the Bill which seeks to give parameters, legal structure and regulations to a space where these are currently absent, is commendable.“The Chamber wishes to re-emphasise its support for the rule of law in society and continues to remain supportive of the equal application of the rule of law, especially as it relates to matters of good governance,” it added, while again demanding that the matter be looked into.Only Tuesday, General Secretary of the Guyana Trades Union Congress (GTUC), Lincoln Lewis encouraged Guyanese to refuse to be silenced. Making reference to the Bill, Lewis told the May Day rally, “Let none still your voice, for your voice plays a pivotal role in giving meaning and expressions to your existence.”He said too that it is vital to being part of the social order because everyone is foremost social beings. “Let’s get up… stand up for our rights. Don’t let us give up the fight. Ours is the baton to carry and we must carry it like true warriors. None must stop us in this leg of our journey to create a just society!”According to clause 18 of the Bill, persons commit an offence of sedition when they, “attempt to bring into hatred or excite disaffection towards the Government.” These provisions have, in fact, excited worry among social media users, young people and Guyanese as a whole.Since the introduction of the legislation, many members of the public have sought to criticise the clauses and Government, while calling for it to be removed from the Bill; the original purpose being to protect Guyanese and their children from the dangers of cyberspace.Minister of State Joseph Harmon claimed that people are taking that section of the Bill out of context. He maintained that the words in that specific clause speak to threats to national security.Laid in the National Assembly since 2016, the Cyber Crimes Bill had catered for, inter alia: illegal access to a computer system; illegal interception; illegal data interference; illegal acquisition of data; illegal system interference; unauthorised receiving or granting of access to computer data; computer-related forgery; computer-related fraud; offences affecting critical infrastructure; identity-related offences; child pornography; child luring, and violation of privacy among a sleuth of other offences.A special select committee had been working on the Bill for the past few years, and its report on the Bill was presented recently. That committee comprised Attorney General Basil Williams, Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan, Education Minister Nicolette Henry and parliamentarians Michael Carrington and Audwin Rutherford.The People’s Progressive Party was represented by Chief Whip Gail Teixeira and parliamentarians Clement Rohee, Anil Nandlall and Gillian Persaud-Burton.Recently, Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo reminded that the initial purpose of the Bill was to protect Guyanese and their children from the dangers of cyberspace. Instead, he said, the Bill has been converted by the Government to one that, besides the original purpose, protects their Government’s own interests.last_img read more