The Media Workers Association of Grenada is disheartened by the Grenada government’s decision not to remove from a draft bill, an offending clause that could severely undermine free expression, and infringe on the rights of Grenadians, especially members of our profession.
MWAG has made it abundantly clear that it will not stand for anything short of the total deletion of Clause 6 of the Electronic Crime Bill 2013, now Electronic Crime Act, and a revision of other offending clauses.
The Prime Minister via a telephone discussion with the President of the association, indicated that he had instructed the Attorney General, Cajeton Hood to remove the clause, on 2 July 2013 and again on 25 September 2013, at which time Prime Minister, Dr. the Rt. Hon. Keith Mitchell, again stated that his administration will not go back on its word to address the issue.
The necessary amendments he stated will be addressed during the second session of the ninth Parliament, when it resumes on 4 October, which did not happen.
During the 2013 MWAG Media Awards, held on 8 December at the Grenada Trade Center Annex, the issue was again raised by the president in her address, and Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, Dr. Keith Mitchell, promised the removal of Clause 6 of the Electronic Crimes Bill which can send someone to jail, if another person feels offended by comments or statements made electronically. The nation’s leader said during his remarks at the award ceremony, “my own view is that if it is causing a problem, then we don’t need it.”
In the note sent to the AG via Communications consultant to the Prime Minister, Hamlet Mark, the following is what was proposed by MWAG.
(a) Section 6 be deleted altogether, and
(b) Section 26 — where it says “arrest without warrant by any office”, we believe consistent with the other sections above, should read “not below the rank of Inspector”, and not a case where any officer can arrest someone without a warrant in that case.
A meeting was subsequently scheduled by the Prime Minister’s Press Secretary for 8 January at 12 noon, between MWAG’s President, Shere-Ann Noel, 2nd Vice President, Mikey Hutchinson and Attorney–General Cajeton Hood, at the Ministry of Tourism conference room. However, the AG failed to show up, and to date no correspondence has been sent to the executive, explaining Mr. Hood’s absence or to reschedule the meeting.
The executive of the MWAG is urging Government to fulfil its promise and remove the controversial Clause 6 of the bill. MWAG’s position on this matter is supported by several regional and international organisations who are strong advocates for freedom of expression, a right protected under section 10 of Grenada’s Constitution.
While we applaud the efforts to deal with other far-reaching issues such as child pornography and identity theft, we will remain vigilant that no additional measures are slipped through the back door that will bring back facets of criminal libel.