The lawyer for the first person charged under the nation’s Cybercrime Act says her information is that the charge is motivated by politics.
Catisha Pierre-Jack has been charged with four counts of libel by electronic communication of her older sister, Crystal Pierre, relating to a post she reportedly made on Jan. 30 on the social networking website, Facebook.
Pierre-Jack had initially pleaded guilty to the charges at her arraignment last Monday, Feb. 12 and was scheduled to be sentenced last Friday.
But when she re-appeared at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court before Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett, the woman said that she had pleaded guilty because police officer Corporal Jack had advised her to do so.
The woman’s lawyer, Kay Bacchus-Baptiste, who came into the case on Thursday, also wrote a letter to the magistrate to that effect.
Asked at an opposition New Democratic Party (NDP) press conference on Friday about her involvement in the case, Bacchus-Baptiste, who is also an NDP senator, said:
“I was consulted by the lady yesterday and I agreed to take her case because not only it is the first case [under the Cybercrime Act], but it is interesting because she was not properly advised.
“She said it was a policeman who advised her to plead guilty. So I asked the magistrate to vacate her plea and I think that is what he did. I could not be in court myself because I had another court to attend. So we would be putting up a defence when the matter comes up for next hearing.”
The lawyer also raised questions about the application of the controversial law, which was passed in 2016 amidst, local, regional and international concern that it even criminalises the truth.
Bacchus-Baptiste said she has sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Colin Williams, information about statements that person have made about her on the internet, “which he simply just refused to deal with and refused to answer.
“So my question is: is there one law for some people and another law for others? Because it seems to me that this law is going to be used as a political tool and we are going to make sure that that doesn’t happen.”
She said that the information she sent to the chief prosecutor had to do with “comments which were made by someone on Facebook that had to do with a really defamatory matter and it was politically motivated, clearly by a known person who wears red all the time, writes all the time, vilifies a lot of people and the DPP ignored it.
“I took copies of it, the post, the picture, the word that was said, nothing was done. So I am very interested o see what informs him or the prosecution that they would take up some and not others and I can tell you, we are not going to allow this to be used as a political football tool.”
Bacchus-Baptiste said she is considering proceeding civilly against the person whom she said defamed her.
It was noted that while she said the law is being used as a political tool, the case that is before the court involves two sisters.
“My information is that it has something to do with politics too, based on my information. But, the point is, they have brought their first case and it is going to be defended,” Bacchus-Baptiste said.