The Grenada Government has announced that it will repeal the three sections of the Electronic Crimes Act which is of concern to media workers locally, regionally and internationally.
The legislation was approved by the Lower House of Parliament on 28 June 2013, and since then, strong concerns and objections have been raised about its potential impact on freedom of expression, in particular the media. It was however, approved by the Upper House without any amendments and came into law on 3 October 2013.
Prime Minister Dr Keith Mitchell who is also the Minister for Information promised that the sections of the legislation which became very topical will be removed, and a date has since being set for legislators to amend the law.
“We will bring legislation to remove sections 6, 16 and 25 of the Electronics Crimes Act, which as you know was of great concern to the press at the next sitting of parliament. Those sections will be deleted,” Attorney General Cajeton Hood said. The Parliament is schedule to meet on 7 March 2014.
The Electronic Crimes Bill was among pieces of legislation which were approved to facilitate the regional Electronic Government project. It provides protection to citizens with regard to electronic crimes, such as electronic identity theft, distribution of child pornography, prank calls to the law enforcement, electronic stalking, distributing of spoof and spam emails and other electronic formats, electronic fraud and forgery, electronic terrorism, offensive messages and violating another person’s privacy.
The OECS Electronic Government for Regional Integration Project comprised two phases: (1) focus on cross-sectoral e-government issues as well as specific applications in the public finance area, and an e-government in-health pilot project; (2) To deepen the assistance provided under Phase 1, while expanding the programmes to cover other sectors such as, tourism, agriculture, health and education.
The project which closes at the end of February 2014, offers countries E-government as an enabler to transform the public sector, significantly changing the relationship with citizens and businesses. This demonstrates the value of the investment in technology to address short term economic and budgetary challenges, while supporting the OECS Economic Union in delivering on longer term public service improvement and democratic goals.
A recent statement from the OECS Secretariat said that the project is expected to enhance transparency, and reduce opportunities for corruption and fraud and lessen the cost of Public Service delivery.
Ultimately, EGRIP will provide significant human capital development training which will help to enhance the quality of service by government offices to “the man on the street”. The e-government applications will help the public sector to reduce cost in their provision of services as well as help to increase the business rankings of the participating OECS Member States.
by Linda Straker