Cybercrimes Act well structured, says Champagnie
Attorney-at-law Peter Champagnie said that not only is the new Cybercrimes Act quite clear in its structure and wording, but it is also well timed for the expanding social media era, where damage caused to reputation by publishing is almost irreversible. He said that the act was quite compatible with democracy, while not obstructing any advances made under the 2013 Defamation Act.
"While our Constitution guarantees freedom of expression and allows us to express that freedom through various media, such freedom is always subject to not causing harm or injury to others or infringing on the rights of others. In any free and democratic society, that is what the constitution is hinged on, so it is an argument that can't be viewed from one side," Champagnie told The Gleaner.
"The laws in relation to defamation are distinct from the provisions of the Cybercrimes Act. For example, with defamation, one can plead justification as defence. That is, if you publish something that you can prove to be true, then the other party who would be offended by the publication couldn't successfully sue you. The cybercrimes legislation gives rise to criminal prosecution where the publication is intended to cause harm and/or is obscene."
Champagnie's declaration on the Cybercimes Act, 2015, is the most recent in an ongoing sequence of events, which began with the arrest of women's rights advocate Latoya Nugent.
On Tuesday, Dr Wayne West, chairman of the Jamaica Coalition for a Healthy Society (JCHS), called on lawmakers to immediately review the wording of the act to maintain free speech.
Under the act, last week, Nugent was arrested and charged with three counts of using a computer for malicious communication.
When the case was called up in the Kingston and St Andrew Parish Court yesterday, it was disclosed that the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had decided to intervene.
Yanique Brown, assistant DPP, who also serves as deputy head for the offices' cybercrimes and digital evidence unit, will review the case.
The case was adjourned until Friday and Nugent's bail was further extended.