St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Queens Counsel Charles Wilkin has been expounding on the subject of freedom of speech and the responsibility this carries.
He was responding to a question while delivering the History and Heritage Month Lecture 2017 last week.
“You spoke about freedom of speech as one of our rights under the constitution, but I want to know whether or not you can make a comment about the consequences of free speech bearing in mind we have various ways of communicating these days through the internet, whatsapp, etc and the young people seem to think that freedom of speech means that you can do anything.”
Former Bar Association president Wilkin says there is need to educate the federation’s children on the dangers and the advantages of the information technology that prevails today.
“The law of libel and slander still exists and I think that given the new information age we need to teach our children. I think it will be a very interesting discussion under the education act which I understand the government is going to consult on and talk about how we are going to educate our children of the dangers as well as the great advantages of the information technology. I don’t profess to even know all the various types of IT that exists, but I do know that we are still under the constitution have the right to our reputation.”
QC Wilkin would like to see some non-partisan debate on not only the freedom of speech issue, but other key areas as well.
“There was one event which gave me some hope when there was a national discussion on crime where I noted it and said it, the politicians didn’t like it but, I said this is the first time in any event in St Kitts and Nevis, where have seen a government and the opposition speaking with each other and not at each other. That was on crime and perhaps we have reached the extreme with that, but that is what I hope can happen on other areas for example what is our long term health plan? We know that we can’t afford all of the fancy medical equipment, what should we emphasize? Its areas like that where the medical association should be involved, areas of electoral system where the bar association should be involved but our civil society has been very weak and too many persons have been afraid of the consequences or what they perceive to be the consequences of speaking out.”