The Police Service says racist or antagonistic posts against specific groups can run you into trouble with the law, as it can be deemed as a seditious act.
“A seditious intention is an intention to raise discontent or dissatisfaction among the inhabitants of Trinidad and Tobago,” Deputy Commissioner Jayson Forde said as he read from the Sedition Act during a press conference at Police Administration Building in Port-of-Spain.
“To engender or promote feelings of ill will or hostility between one or more sectors/sections of the community on the one hand and any other section or sections on the other hand. Or feelings of ill will towards or hostility towards to or contempt for any class of inhabitants of Trinidad and Tobago, distinguished by race, colour, religion, profession, calling or employment.”
Since the announcement of General Election results on Monday, a series of social media posts have been criticised due to racially-charged language, with several institutions—including Ramsaran’s Dairy Products, the T&T Defence Force and T&T Fire Service—issuing statements distancing and denouncing the comments made by persons identified as their employees.
“Many of these posts more than qualify, from what I have just read here, and once we find you and we have the evidence to support it, you can be charged for either sedition, you can be charged for harassment,” Forde said.
Police Commissioner Gary Griffith noted that some of the posts went beyond the use of racial language but instead involved threats of violence as well. This, he explained, would not be ignored, even if it did not result in charges.
“We have seen over the last few days, persons are basically making accusations to kill persons, people are actually boasting and telling the individual he wished that he could rape the young lady.
“There are some sick human beings out there and we are databasing all of these individuals and even though they may not be committing a crime, it is being logged and being monitored. They are going to be weighed and measured,” Griffith said.
“I understand that persons are very emotional, they may be hurting, persons may be said, persons may be very happy, but you cannot use emotions as an excuse to attack and infringe the rights of others.”
Griffith also defended the use of the word “cockroaches,” which he himself had used to describe criminals previously, after a Ramsaran’s Dairy Products employee and relative of the family, Naila Ramsaran, used the same word in what was deemed a racist attack and suffered backlash for it.
“As it pertains to me mentioning and referring to cold-blooded killers, rapists, kidnappers as a cockroach, and persons who are offended by this, I am taking this opportunity to apologise. The fact of the matter is that a cockroach does not deliberately try to harm anyone, these individuals do, so I apologise to cockroaches,” Griffith said.