Opposition MP Sherod Duncan arrested under Cybercrime Act passed by APNU/AFC
…to appear in court on Monday
Opposition Member of Parliament Sherod Duncan was on Thursday morning arrested in relation to an ongoing cybercrime offence that was reported to the Guyana Police Force. The Act which stipulates the offence is contained in the cybercrime Act passed by APNU/AFC in 2018.
On Wednesday, Information Technology (IT) Manager at the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM), 36-year-old Aneal Giddings, reported to the Police that Duncan made derogatory statements about him on a social media programme, “In the Ring”.
It is alleged that Duncan referred to the IT Manager as a “jagabat” and “trench crappo” among other disrespectful names, which caused him significant emotional stress and humiliation. (The term jagabat has several meanings in the Caribbean: in Trinidad, it means a promiscuous woman and in Guyana, it means a despicable or contemptible person while crappo is the local spelling for the French “crapaud” meaning toad; trench crappos are particularly large and unsightly)
In a statement, Police said the mentioned video was identified and downloaded from the Facebook page under the name Sherod Avery Duncan. Along with the arrest, a statement was taken from Giddings, and the investigation is ongoing.
Duncan was subsequently released on $100,000 station bail as investigations continue.
Last year, the Director of Public Prosecutions advised the Guyana Police Force to charge former Minister and current Opposition Member of Parliament Annette Ferguson for cyberbullying a senior member of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). She was charged under section 195(5)(a) of the Cybercrime Act, No. 16 of 2018, which deals with using a computer system to humiliate a person.
Ferguson was arrested last June by ranks of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters at Eve Leary after a report in relation to a cybercrime allegation was filed against her. The matter was in relation to a Facebook social media post which falsely alleged that the said senior GDF rank would be in charge of a ‘killing squad’.
After Ferguson’s arrest, members of the Opposition had come out attacking the Police Force, but Home Affairs Minister Robeson Benn condemned this act.
Laid in the National Assembly in 2016 by the former APNU/AFC Government, the Cyber Crimes Bill had catered for, inter alia: illegal access to a computer system; illegal interception; illegal data interference; illegal acquisition of data; illegal system interference; unauthorised receiving or granting of access to computer data; computer-related forgery; computer- related fraud; offences affecting critical infrastructure; identity-related offences; child pornography; child luring, and violation of privacy among a slew of other offences.
It treats with the creation of cybercrime offences, and contains provisions for penalties, investigations and prosecutions of such.
Despite criticisms over the bill at that time, the then Government was unmoved, insisting that the measure was for national security. (G12)