Sherod Duncan charged under APNU/AFC-passed Cybercrime Act
…released on $200,000 bail
Opposition Member of Parliament (MP) Sherod Avery Duncan was on Monday released on $200,000 bail over allegations that he committed a cybercrime. The Cybercrime Act under which Duncan was charged was passed under the former APNU/AFC Government.
Duncan, 42, a father of three, appeared before Principal Magistrate Judy Latchman at the Diamond/Golden Grove Magistrates’ Courts.
It is alleged that on January 11, without legal or lawful justification or excuse, Duncan used a computer system to publish electronic data about Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) IT Manager, Aneal Giddings, 36, with intent to humiliate, embarrass and cause him emotional distress.
Duncan pleaded not guilty to the charge. The parliamentarian was represented by Attorneys-at-Law Nigel Hughes, Khemraj Ramjattan, Narissa Leander, and Amanza Walton-Desir. Leander, during a bail application, told the court that her client, who has an unblemished criminal record, is not a flight risk.
Duncan will make his next court appearance on February 10.
Duncan was arrested last week by ranks of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters after Giddings reported that he referred to him as “jagabat”, “trench crappo” amongst other disrespectful and derogatory names during his Facebook show “In the Ring”. (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).
Giddings, who filed the report last Wednesday, complained that the statements have caused him significant emotional stress and humiliation. Police in their probe, downloaded the video of the show from a Facebook page under the name “Sherod Avery Duncan” and a statement was taken from Giddings.
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, which deals with using a computer system to humiliate a person. It was reported that via a Facebook post, Ferguson stated that the GDF rank will be in charge of a “killing squad”.
Laid in the National Assembly in 2016 by the former APNU/AFC Government, the Cybercrime Act 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.
Moreover, the Act 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. (G1)