If social media and the letters section of the free press is anything to go by Guyanese have no desire to be silenced. RISE Guyana is heartened by the immediate rejection of Section 18(1) of the Cybercrime Bill 2016 which creates an age old crime of sedition for cyberspace. As so many have stated, notably Transparency Institute and the Guyana Press Association, there is no place for such an offence in a liberal democracy. The freedom to speak must never be circumvented and if so only in the narrowest of circumstances as per current constitutional provisions. RISE is disappointed that after many days of the public outcry on section 18(1) the international community has remained silent. Where do CARICOM, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada stand on this most troubling development? What about the United Nations? Surely the deleterious effects of this law on a fragile democracy such as ours must be a cause for concern for these nations who have been vocal about human rights violations, in Guyana, over the years. The international community must recognize at this stage their objection will add strength to arguments against section 18(1) as it comes up for the second reading in Parliament.
RISE rejects section 18 of the Cybercrime Bill in its entirety and suggests a complete redraft eliminating subsection (1) and related subsections. We wish to remind all Guyanese that our ancestors paid the ultimate price for the freedoms we now take for granted. The struggles of the enslaved and the indentured must never be forgotten as we the beneficiaries of tremendous human suffering look to the future as a free people with boundless resources. We must never imagine for ourselves, lives where our children and future generations are the immigrants at the gate, begging to be let in. Authoritarianism will lead us there if we are not vigilant.
Guyanese sisters and brothers the time to speak is now. Reject section 18 of the Cybercrime Bill; reject any attempts to erode your constitutionally protected rights. Awake from the slumber of division and antipathy and understand that power concedes nothing without a fight. We are a free people and we must guard against any attempt at oppression.
“The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism” Wole Soyinka.
For RISE Guyana,