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Republic of Trinidad and Tobago

Your social media posts can get you charged or arrested

Handcuffs on keyboard with COMMENT text on keys. Computer censorship related conceptual 3D rendering

Whilst freedom of speech is enshrined in the constitution, that freedom is not absolute and you have to marry it with responsible behavior.

These were the words of the Deputy Commissioner of Police DCP (Ag.) Jayson Forde, stated during a Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) press briefing held on, August 14th 2020. It was in direct relation to a flood of hate posts on various social media platforms, particularly on Facebook. The posts made their way on to the social platforms from Trinbago citizens of all walks of life and were mostly politically and racially charged. Some of the posts have garnered the attention of the protective services as those posts seem to have either breached or come very close to breaching some current laws of Trinidad and Tobago.
The legislations that have been quoted were:

In particular, the Sedition Act, was cited in the press briefing and the following was quoted:

A seditious intention is an intention to raise discontent or disaffection amongst inhabitants of Trinidad and Tobago; to engender or promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between one or more sections of the community on the one hand and any other section or sections of the community on the other hand or feelings of ill-will towards, hostility to or contempt for any class of inhabitants of Trinidad and Tobago distinguished by race, colour, religion, profession, calling or employment.

DCP (Ag.) Jayson Forde indicated that many of the posts under review ‘qualify under the sedition act’ and once they can find evidence to support the posts, that person can be charged for either Sedition or Harassment under Offenses Against the Person Act.

He also went on to define what Harassment under the Offences Against The Person Act was defined as and was quoted to say:

“harassment” of a person includes alarming the person or causing the person distress by engaging in a course of conduct such as … making contact with the person, whether by gesture, directly, verbally, by telephone, computer, post or in any other way; giving offensive material to the person, or leaving it where it will be found by, given to, or brought to the attention of the person; acting in any manner described in subparagraphs (i) to (v) towards someone with a familial or close personal relationship to the person; or acting in any other way that could reasonably be expected to alarm or cause the person distress; 

DCP (Ag.) Jayson Forde urged citizens to desist from that “irresponsible and criminal type behavior” as if you continue to do so, you can be prosecuted.



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