I find the report by Mr. Raphael Trotman, leader of the key coalition party Alliance For Change (AFC) that his party will not support the Sedition Clause (clause 18) in the Cybercrime Bill of 2016 most astonishing. Mr. Trotman must be aware that Chairman and immediate past leader of the AFC and Vice-President of Guyana Khemraj Ramjattan and AFC MP Mr. Michael Carrington were members of the Committee and that both were present and voted to retain the dangerously offensive clause 18.
In fact, Mr. Ramjattan played a key role in the Committee, including referring the Bill to a lecturer at a meeting of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association which he attended and also in offering guidance to the Select Committee that the “Commonwealth has a standard Legislation/Model Act and the Cybercrime Bill emanated from that Act.” At best, Mr. Ramjattan could only have been referring to the 2002 Commonwealth Computer and Computer Related Crimes Model Law. Incidentally, a 2014 Discussion Paper on Cybercrime Model Laws prepared for the Cybercrime Convention Committee (T – CY) reports that the Commonwealth Model Law could not be found on the Commonwealth Secretariat’s website and has “been of little relevance in terms of impact upon Commonwealth countries or even generally.”
The reason that I find Trotman’s statement so offensive is that it represents a pattern of conduct in which Trotman and the leadership of the AFC seek to distance the Party whenever questions arise in the public over odious matters supported by the Party in private. Under the Party’s duplicitous leadership, the policy is to support even the most reprehensible and outrageous acts of the Coalition and in the event there is public outrage, the reaction is distance, deny and disown. They did so in relation to VAT on education, the parking meter contract and the Esso/Hess and CNOOC/NEXEN petroleum contract.
Having played a leading role in the formation of the AFC, including hosting and chairing pre-formation meetings, the writing of the party’s constitution, the selection of the party’s logo, and participation in almost every single meeting of the parliamentary party to plan strategies and responses to the annual budgets under the PPP/C, I am shocked to see what the party has become – opportunistic, self-serving and dishonest – seeking only to promote the interests and comforts of a few leading members.
Having read the Report and the Minutes of the Select Committee and the Bill as recommended to the National Assembly, it is clear to me that the high-powered Select Committee did a rather superficial and poor job under the chairmanship of the Attorney General Basil Williams. The APNU and the AFC have used the ruse of a Cybercrime Bill to reintroduce Sedition Legislation nakedly seeking to protect not the State but the Government. That is not what cybercrime laws are about.
My recommendation is that the entire Bill be scrapped and replaced by a Bill based on the Budapest Convention.