Monday, February 19, 2018

Browne: Govt’s move contradictory

 Member of Parliament (MP) for Diego Martin Central Dr Amery Browne has described Government’s move to abolish Section 9 of the Libel Defamation Act as contradictory.

Speaking in the Parliament on Friday night, Browne said if something is published in a malicious and defamatory fashion designed to extort, intimidate or restrict a citizen, Government is attempting to make it difficult to bring a criminal charge against the offending writer but if just a threat is made, the writer will be caught in Government’s newly amended Bail Amendment Bill.

“Threatening to publish with intent to extort which now attracts no bail whatsoever subsequent to a conviction and a charge and this is just threatening—I see that as quite contradictory. If there is a threat after a conviction there is no bail for you. I think that is a very much upside down approach to the law.

“If you threaten to do it the government takes a very dim view and puts you alongside other non-bailable offences, possession of firearms, receiving stolen goods, gang membership, grievous bodily harm, shooting and wounding, robbery with aggravation. That’s where they put you,” he said.

He added that citizens were under assault by the criminal elements daily but the government was not  defending the citizens but making it easier for people to escape criminal charges for malicious defamation of even the average citizens since the civil option to sue was not easily accessible to the average citizen.

“If the Attorney General or any member would be honest they would know it is expensive and difficult and not readily accessible to poor people who might find themselves in the headlights of this kind of malicious attack. That is no comfort for these citizens,” Browne added.