Thursday 20 February, 2020

UNC: Cybercrime Bill dangerous to journalism

Government is displaying all the hallmarks of a dictatorial regime.

The accusation comes from the United National Congress (UNC), which in a statement on the occasion of the observance of World Press Freedom Day 2019 said the country has witnessed an “unprecedented assault on free expression and facts” under the current administration.

The Opposition party said the theme chosen for this year’s commemoration: Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times for Disinformation, is a timely one. 

“Whether it’s manipulating important economic data, presenting false evidence in Parliament, avoiding transparency in international Gas deals, or openly abusing journalists who present them with facts, the current Rowley government is displaying all the hallmarks of a dictatorial regime.” 

The UNC also took issue with legislation it deemed as infringing on the constitutional rights of citizens, adding that the most detrimental to journalism is the proposed Cybercrime Bill.

“The organisation Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has noted that legislation currently before Parliament could have a “chilling effect” on press freedom and free expression online, if adopted.”

The Opposition party said the bill has underhanded intentions and will criminalise the act of journalism itself.

It rejected what it described as a flagrant attempt to muzzle and intimidate the press.   

The UNC said the country can be proud of a long tradition of possessing a vibrant and free press, but citizens should remain vigilant, safeguarding the democracy from “those who are attempting to stifle it”.

It urged the media to remain steadfast in fulfilling its role in ensuring citizens get accurate information.

The UNC stated its commitment to protecting the guarantee of press freedom; and pledged to work with all stakeholders in holding the Government to account, in the interests of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.

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