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The views expressed herein are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent the opinions or editorial position of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

Where is government’s priority when it comes to the protection of the rights of the people, especially the vulnerable, such as children and women? Consider the following revelations in light of the recently passed, assented to and gazetted Cybercrime Act 2016:

  1. The ULP government passed the Freedom of Information Act in 2003 but it is NOT ENFORCED — after more than 13 years. This Act is described as follows: “An Act to give rights of access to official documents of the government and public authorities to members of the public, and to provide for connected matters.” Such an important piece of legislation should not be sitting for more than a decade awaiting enforcement. This shows no regard for the significance of freedom of information in a modern society that uses democratic methods.
  2. The ULP government passed the Domestic Violence Act 2015 in May 2015. That is OVER 1 YEAR AGO and, to date, it is NOT ENFORCED. This act was championed as being necessary to create greater protections of victims of Domestic Violence, especially women and children. I supported many of its proposed changes as I, too, had called for its reform in previous times See the following benefits I outlined in an article I published for International Women’s Day in March this year. I explained that the new Domestic Violence Act 2015 contains:
    i. A definition of domestic violence that broadens its meaning to include treatment in domestic relationships which equally constitute forms of abuse but may not have necessarily been viewed as abuse by some. For example “economic abuse”
  3. A definition of “domestic relationship” that is inclusive of persons in a “visiting relationship”. This is very important as seen in the next point.
    (The above can be seen in the Interpretation section of the DVA 2015)

iii. Inclusion of “a person who is or has been in a visiting relationship with a person of the opposite sex…” in the list of persons who may make an application for a protection order where the alleged perpetrator has engaged in domestic violence. Part 2-Protection Orders-section 5, subsection 2, paragraph (g) addresses this.

  1. Mandatory reporting on domestic violence against children. It falls under “Miscellaneous”, Section 35(1). It says:

“A dentist, medical practitioner, nurse, psychologist, social worker, or a teacher who examines, attends to or deals with any child in circumstances giving rise to REASONABLE SUSPICION that THE CHILD has been subject to ANY ACT OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE as a result of which the child suffers from injury, whether single or multiple, SHALL IMMEDIATELY NOTIFY A POLICE OFFICER OF THE SAID CIRCUMSTANCES.” (My emphasis). Note that under the interpretation section, “domestic violence” is also described as “sexual abuse or threats of sexual abuse”

  1. Criminal penalty for failure to meet this obligation to report ill-treatment of a child. Section 37 says:

“A person who contravenes any prohibition, condition, OBLIGATION or order imposed under this Act and for which a penalty is not stipulated COMMITS AN OFFENCE AND IS LIABLE ON SUMMARY CONVICTION TO A FINE NOT EXCEEDING TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS OR TO A TERM OF IMPRISONMENT NOT EXCEEDING FIVE YEARS OR TO BOTH such fine and imprisonment.”

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Many have lamented what seems to be a prevalence of sexual abuse of young girls in their homes in our land. The public evidence is usually a “belly” seen on an 11- or 12-year-old, for example. Often it seems perpetrators get away. So we talk and talk and talk…. I LAMENT THE FACT THAT “PARENT AND OR GUARDIAN” ARE NOT LISTED here. For they are likely to be the first to know and let’s not be politically correct, some of them are harbouring the abuse against the girls/children in their ward — often for MONEY! Do you understand why I am so upset that this law is not yet in effect? How serious is this government about protecting our children when such is the reality of this law? The law makes provisions for the Minister (charged with responsibility for Social Services) to make regulations to give effect to this Act. Have these regulations been made more than a year after parliamentary passage? Why not? When will it be done? Remember that until then it is like a waste of time.

Meanwhile, the ULP government passed the Cybercrime Act 2016 on Aug. 12, 2016 and has already gazetted it less than one month after. This is a law in which legitimate speaking of the truth is criminalised based on subjective feelings of others and online libel is disproportionately criminally punished with imprisonment. These sections are unconstitutional because they do not represent reasonable justifiable limitations of freedom of expression in a democratic society. YET IT IS RUSHED THROUGH FOR ENFORCEMENT, less than a month after its parliamentary passage ahead of these previous, crucial laws passed so long ago???

So much for priority on protecting children and women! Nobody is fooled but those who are blinded by the blind leaders’ blinding arguments. At enforcement, the real motive of the Cybercrimes law will be exposed; the stifling of freedom of expression and the persecution of dissenters.

Anesia O. Baptiste


The opinions presented in this content belong to the author and may not necessarily reflect the perspectives or editorial stance of iWitness News. Opinion pieces can be submitted to [email protected].

One reply on “Where is the gov’t priority on protecting citizens’ rights?”

  1. Lack of enforcement applies to dozens more laws than these three in our tiny law-breaking land.

    Domestic and sexual abuse are rampant, of course, but so are breaches of the traffic, larceny, drug possession, profanity, and many other laws whose enforcement is either non-existent, lax, highly selective, or poorly carried out.

    The same holds true for countries like ours all around the Third World that have a slackness about and high tolerance for breaches of law and order.

    So, much of the reason for this, apart from bureaucratic indifference or incompetence, is a culture which has a high tolerance for their breach. None of the laws you mention invoke more than a yawn from the mass of our people. Sexual abuse, for example — including the rape of young girls — is, as you say, a matter of economics, as are most things sexual among the lower classes: no money, no honey; no honey, no money.

    So, the law has to go both ways — from the legal and political elite down and from the masses up. Unless both groups are on the same page behaviourally and morally, nothing will change.

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