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Offend someone online in Grenada... go to jail

ST GEORGE’S, Grenada (Caribbean News Now): The Grenada parliament on Friday passed legislation to punish people with hefty fines and/or lengthy jail terms for what is termed "offensive online comments". However, the expression "offensive" is referred to in vague and broad terms, leading many people, especially journalists, to fear that anything could be regarded as offensive by the New National Party (NNP) government led by Prime Minster Dr Keith Mitchell who, following general elections in February, currently enjoys control of all 15 seats in the lower house of parliament.

Mitchell has a long history of using the law to prosecute and/or otherwise intimidate local and international media and journalists in attempts to suppress unfavourable reporting. Now, according to the new law, complaints about offensive comments would be filed with police. A judge would then decide if the message was offensive. Those found guilty could be fined up to $37,000 or face three years in prison. 

"We have problems when some use the technology to engage in mischief," said Legal Affairs Minister Elvin Nimrod. "We have to put structures in place to ensure that persons and, in some cases, companies and characters are not tarnished."

"A person will be able to take that evidence of the posting and use it as evidence in the court," Nimrod added. "People have to act responsibly to others." Although the law is the first of its kind in the Caribbean, other countries have been talking about policing online social media content.

In April, Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson announced that The Bahamas government was working on legislation that will police information posted on the internet. “I don’t think anyone ever anticipated the impact of social media and how powerful it is,” Maynard-Gibson said.

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