February 1, 2023

TTPBA expresses concern over Cybercrime bill

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cybercrimeBy Julien Neaves From T&T NewsDay

The Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) has joined the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) in expressing concern about the Cybercrime bill, with the TTPBA noting that if the legislation is passed the media could be muzzled and investigative journalism undermined.

“In reviewing this bill, it would seem that no thought was given to the repercussions of a free media nor to the role of the media as watchdogs of our nation,” the association stated.

TTPBA in a media statement expressed “grave concern and disappointment” with the bill and called on Government to engage media associations and other stakeholders to redraft and revise the current bill. The Association noted that Government has shown willingness to discuss such issues before and asked that they engage the TTPBA and other stakeholders once more “in order to work in the best interest of our democracy”.

TTPBA appealed to Government to begin a round of consultation “so that a better way forward can be defined”. The Association noted that within the recent past there have been examples of legislation that could lead to the demise of democracy and the media as the fourth estate, specifically the Criminal Libel and Defamation Act and the Data Protection Act. TTPBA pointed out that partial revisions have been made on the former while the latter still needs to be addressed.

The Association recalled that Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar, while addressing the International Press Institute World Congress 2012 in Trinidad, expressed her commitment to “protect, defend and uphold press freedom and the rights of journalists to ‘tell the story’”. She had also stated that a free press is “an integral component of our democracy” and freedom of press and of expression are constitutionally guaranteed.

“The TTPBA understand(s) the need for a Cybercrime Bill but we urge Government to strongly reconsider this and any other legislation which may ultimately result in the demise of our democracy. We look forward to being part of a stakeholder consultation and lending our assistance and cooperation for a revised bill,” the Association added.

Earlier this week President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), Wesley Gibbings, called for Government to withdraw the Cybercrime Bill and noted the issue went beyond that of the media. He explained it will not only restrict press freedom but criminalise the communication of every citizen, and therefore all citizens should be concerned.

On having consultations with media associations Gibbings instead suggested a national consultation on the issue and disagreed with it being restricted to the media.

Last week during debate in the Lower House on the bill St Joseph MP Terrence Deyalsingh warned that it will affect the freedom of the media and will see heavy fines and jail sentences meted out to media practitioners. He pointed out that there is a $100,000 fine and three-year jail sentence for these offences and if there is conviction and indictment there is a $250,000 fine and a five-year jail term.

Attempts to contact Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) President Curtis Williams proved unsuccessful.

For more on this story go to: http://www.newsday.co.tt/news/0,196523.html

IMAGE: ‪www.pakistantv.tv


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