Divisive Cybercrime bill passed

-gov’t cuts sedition clause but concerns remains

Basil Williams SC

Government yesterday used its majority to pass the contentious Cyber-crime Bill with an amendment excising a controversial sedition clause.

However, it failed to win the support of the parliamentary opposition, which said the amendment did not go far enough.

Opposition Chief Whip Gail Teixeira called on the National Assembly to amend the Cybercrime Bill by deleting the proposed Section 18, which had contained the clause, in its entirety.

In making her case for an amendment to this effect in her name, she noted that when the British Parliament decided to remove sedition in 2009, then Parliamentary Under Secretary of State in the Ministry of Justice Claire Ward stated that sedition and seditious and defamatory libel were arcane offences from a bygone era when freedom of expression wasn’t seen as the right it is today. “Freedom of speech is now seen as a touchstone of democracy and the ability of individuals to criticise the state is crucial to maintaining freedom,” Teixeira said…..