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The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) in a statement says the organisation notes with great concern the government’s announcement via the Attorney General (AG) that it intends to repeal the Cybercrime Act and replace it with a new law based on a model emanating from the United Nations. The AG is quoted in the Stabroek News as saying that since the new law would be premised on the United Nations’ (UN) model, “nobody can fault us” and that while CARICOM is pursuing a regional approach, individual countries would be taking their national concerns under consideration.
However, WPA wishes to point out that a bad law is a bad law whether it is premised on principles emanating for the UN or not. Further, if everything emanating from the UN and CARICOM is perfect, it is at the national level that the proposed law could be fiddled with. WPA therefore urges the country not to be fooled by the AG’s clear attempt to hide behind the UN and CARICOM.
The party says their view is based on the current government’s lack of integrity on this matter. After campaigning against the current law, the PPP somersaulted once it assumed office. “In fact, the PPP government has used aspects of the law to go after political opponents—the most recent being charges against Mayor Ubraj Narine and AFC member, Sherrod Duncan.”
The WPA says it finds it rather strange that the government would use the law against opponents today and seeks to repeal it tomorrow. Something smells fishy.
WPA also finds it baffling that the AG is touting the imminent UN model when the Guyana government had abstained when the resolution came up for a vote at the UN. It seems as if the government’s duplicitousness is normative. It is against this background that WPA cannot take the government’s word. While we continue to be against sections of the current law, the announcement that it would be repealed should bring no comfort to those who cherish freedom of speech.
Towards this end the WPA makes the following recommendations: –
“First, as proof of its goodwill, the AG should advise the police to review charges against citizens that are tied up in the courts –particularly those which have been initiated since the government took office in August 2020.
“Second, the government should initiate meaningful consultations with key stakeholders such as the political opposition and the necessary Civil Society organizations including the Bar Association and the Guyana Human Rights Association. Such consultations should include soliciting their views on the UN recommendations and their own views on the content of the proposed new law. Such an important matter should not be left to one stakeholder.”