Commissioner of Police, Gary Griffith, is urging citizens not to cross the line when they express themselves in social media, otherwise they could find themselves running afoul of the law, and facing hefty fines and even jail time.
The Police Commissioner expressed concern over what he says is “the recent upsurge in the belief that persons can make veiled or actual threats and incite others to violence, particularly through an expression of themselves on social media or otherwise”, noting that public figures and politicians are reporting to him more and more of threats being levelled against them in the public space.
In an official statement on the matter, the CoP warned that the Cyber Crime Unit of the Police Service is paying close attention.
“Whilst citizens have a constitutional right to freedom of expression and speech, such rights cannot be exercised in an irresponsible manner, which infringe on the rights of others, including public officials,” he said.
Commissioner Griffith asserts that legal action will be taken against those engaging in conduct, “which threatens, incites, and/or encourages others to act in a manner that can lead to violence, will not be tolerated and such persons will be made to face the full brunt of the law.”
He cites Sections 30A and 30B of the Offences Against the Person Act, Chap 11:08.
Section 30A of the Offences Against the Person Act, he says, states that such threatening behaviour can constitute an offence of harassment, as set out in the legislation:
“(2) A person who pursues a course of conduct which amounts to harassment of another and which he knows or ought reasonably to know amounts to harassment of the other, is guilty of an offence and is liable on summary conviction to a fine of two thousand dollars and to imprisonment for six months”.
And according to Section 30B of the Offences Against the Person Act:
“(1) A person who is accused of conduct which would constitute an offence under section 30A and which causes the other person to fear that violence will be used against him, and the person whose course of conduct is in question knows or ought to know that his conduct will cause the other person so to fear, commits an offence and is liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of ten thousand dollars and to imprisonment for five years or, on summary conviction, to a fine of five thousand dollars and to imprisonment for six months”.
The Police Commissioner also is warning persons who encourage persons to engage in threatening conduct, that they too, are breaking the law.
He explains they may be held liable under the Accessories and Abettors Act, Chap 10:02 which states:
“Any person who aids, abets, counsels or procures the commission of any indictable offence may be indicted, tried and punished as a principal offender”.
“The Cyber Crime Unit will be monitoring social media for persons intent on committing such offences and they will be detained, and the requisite charges laid, where applicable,” Commissioner Griffith added.