HOA Speaker calls for law to criminalize obscene social media posts

Moutrie says the issue is degrading “morale fabric” of the nation

NASSAU, BAHAMAS — Speaker of the House of Assembly Halson Moultrie suggested yesterday the time has come for Parliament to consider amending legislation to criminalize obscene posts on social media.

“Social media reports and postings that seem to be very, very callus; very insensitive and in some cases unlawful because I’ve seen some posts on social media that caused me to examine The Bahamas Penal Code to see if there was some reform to the code with respect to obscenity,” Moultrie said during the mid-year budget debate.

“Persons are able to actually make video posts with their faces exposed and using the most obscene language. I have been following the news and I have not been hearing of any arrests.

“The member for Golden Isles raised the point with respect to those young students making some most unfortunate remarks.

“And I believe it is unfortunate that the minister of national security is not here at this time, but something has got to be done.

Moultrie said the issue is “eroding the very morale fabric of our society”.

“Something must be done to stop the obscenities in particular that are being disseminated via social media,” the speaker said.

“And with respect to the comments made by Central and South Abaco, it is really regrettable that people seek to terrorize, as he put it, members or resident from Abaco and Grand Bahama and Abaco who have been so traumatized by the passage of Dorian.

“That is so unfortunate. We have to take a stand sometime to correct this degradation of our morale fabric in this nation, otherwise we are wasting our time if we don’t do anything about it.”

A video of three young children in school uniform jeering about the performance of oral sex, and other obscenities, including accusing a school teacher of having AIDs, made the rounds on social media this week.

Last June, Minister of Education Jeffrey Lloyd suggested amending the law or enact new legislation to criminalize the use of any electronic device which exposes the “life, reputation, identity or character of a minor to public contempt”.

Lloyd said young children, who are not mature enough to understand the danger of social media, may easily and innocently find themselves “ensnared by the vortex of this technological equipment”.

In April 2013, then Attorney General Allyson Maynard-Gibson said the Office of the Attorney General was working on legislation that will police information posted on the Internet.

The announcement followed a warning by then Police Commissioner Ellison Greenslade that police would press charges against people who post “lewd, or obscene” pictures on social media.

He first issued the warning after community activist Rodney Moncur was arrested and charged for posting on Facebook autopsy photos of a man who died in police custody.

The legislation was never brought to Parliament, however.