The Working People’s Alliance (WPA) says it is concerned with the government’s intention to repeal the Cybercrime Act that was passed by the former government, the A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) in 2018.
It was Attorney General (AG) and Minister of Legal Affairs, Anil Nandlall, who disclosed his government’s intention to replace the act with modern legislation based on a model from the United Nations (UN).
The AG was quoted in the Stabroek News on December 19, 2022, as saying:
“It will be a model cybercrime Bill for the CARICOM region. That Bill will meet modern international standards. It is the UN that is setting that example, so nobody can fault us.”
The law faced intense criticism from Nandlall’s party and sections of civil society over a controversial sedition clause that was embedded in the legislation.
Four years after its objection to the act and two years now in government, Nandlall’s party wants to revamp the legislation, but the WPA says it has reservations. An Executive Member of the WPA, Dr David Hinds, is calling on the nation to not be “fooled”.
“The 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 United Nations and CARICOM,” Dr Hinds said on behalf of the WPA.
Dr Hinds continued, “We base our view 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. WPA finds it rather strange that the government would use the law against opponents today and seeks to repeal it tomorrow. Something smells fishy.”
The party said that it 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 While we continue to be against sections of the current law, the announcement that it would be repealed should bring no comfort to those who cherish freedom of speech,” the WPA said.