BVI News

‘VIP gov’t will never silence media’, says Premier after controversial Cybercrime law amendment

Premier Andrew Fahie has denounced allegations which suggests that the recently assented-to Computer Misuse and Cybercrime (Amendment) Act of 2019 is geared towards stifling freedom of speech in the territory.

The leader of government business made the statement in Tuesday’s session of the House of Assembly, in response to criticism received by local and international personnel on the matter.

“Never did we as Honourable members speak of this legislation as a tool to threaten the principle and guarantee of free expression and press freedom. In amending this Act, never did we say or even conceive that the people of Virgin Islands did not have a fundamental right to debate the public figures and policies that affect their lives,” Fahie argued.

“Your government appreciates the role of the media. The media is an integral part of maintaining democracy and accountability and this government will never do anything to silence the media” he added.

Media must be held accountable for publications

Premier Fahie also said while his government will not be silencing the media and that they (the media) still must also be held responsible and accountable for their actions.

He said Section 23 of the Virgin Islands Constitution, which freedom of expression is guaranteed, prescribes the limits to this exercise of freedom of expression.

“While I respect the concerns expressed, it is clear that the right to freedom of expression is not absolute and must be exercised without violating or infringing certain other protected rights and interests, such as the right to protection of reputation and national security,” he stated.

“The Cyber Crime Legislation is intended to provide protection against unlawful communication publicised for the sole purpose of damaging the reputation of citizens and residents and for which the Constitution specifically restricts,” the Premier further explained.

Persons who are found guilty of electronic defamation can be fined up to $100,000 or face a maximum of three years in prison, or both.

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  1. vip heckler says:

    The VIP aim is to silence the masses, especially the bloggers come 2023

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    • @VIP Heckler says:

      Let them try, they do that, It will look like the BVI have things to hide and looks like a dictatorship Country. No one will be willing to do business with the BVI. This is not North Korea.

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  2. Travesty says:

    BVI we have done well. We have allowed ourselves through gossip and fake news to be ruled by magicians. The VIP used the n———-t tactics that I have ever seen to spread l–s and very off—— things in the last campaign. Now they are afraid of the same tactics being used against now that they are the government so they bring this law to scare people. The Premier said that the media must be accountable but he made Willock the Speaker, the person who owns and directs the most dis——– and un——-l ta—–d in the country. Do we see where our country is heading?

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  3. Quiet Rebel says:

    “VIP-govt-will-never-silence-media-says-premier-after-controversial-cybercrime-law-amendment.” This is a hollow promise that does not give me a warm fuzzy and cause me to leap for joy. Though the VIP may silence the media, the law is on the books and succeeding government(s) may do so. Politicians act often in their own self interest, not in the public interest.

    These concerns were raised before the bill was passed in the HOA, after the bill was passed and during Governor Jaspert review. The Guv had concerns yet the bill was assented. Was it that the Governor is leaving soon and could give a rat’s a…s. about freedom of speech and freedom of the press in the VI? If it were in the Falkland Islands or Gibraltar, would the bill still be assented to even with its flaws. The bill need to be return to the HOA and fixed. But should we hold our collective breaths?

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  4. My take says:

    I agree with the VIP on the need for this Act

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  5. Phoenix says:

    LOL!!!! How will the VI government stop the UK from using it to silence them when the time comes?

  6. Anonymous says:

    @Phoenix: You are on to something very deep, thoughtful and foreshadowing.. All hope is that the worst may never come.

  7. Fact check says:

    This is a disgrace. If someone is defamed through electronic media, they should be prosecuted through defamation laws, NOT cyber crime.

    Absolute joke.

    Cyber crime is a serious thing. It’s only a matter of time before big boy laws designed for big boy crimes are used for petty and vindictive score-settling.

    But don’t worry, it will all be in the interests of ‘national security’ – The classic fascist reason for reducing civil liberties.

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  8. X says:

    There has never been freedom of speech. Some people want to speculate and even make up stories without proof and spread it like mustard. For example that Mamacita story that Mark was talking about. Even if it was true I guarantee Mark wasn’t there so for him to get on a mic and spread that story like he was 100% sure without being an actual eye witness just shows that some of us need to be muzzled for our own good. The video went viral the words cannot be erased. The media picked up the story. Bring him to court for questioning he will look like a fool because he cannot backup anything other than say somebody tell me so. Another example is when Kobe died and somebody spread wrong info saying another person was involved and had everybody blowing up the man phone stressing his family out for no reason. Everybody need to be accountable for the stuff they spread.

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  9. FACTS says:

    Most of you talking have not read the Bill.

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