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Sep 5, 2019

“Advancing Cyberbullying Amendments to Belize’s Criminal Code”

Bullying or harassment using an electronic means is known as cyberbullying; these types of cyber crimes are known to be widespread due to easy access to the internet. Just about anyone can be targeted. So there is a push to amend the Criminal Code to prosecute, convict and punish those who carry out these reprehensible actions.  This morning a forum took place at the Biltmore in which related authorities are looking at a draft legislation. News Five’s Hipolito Novelo reports.

 

Hipolito Novelo reporting

Over the past few years, there has been increased access to the internet. This has led to an increasing number of cybercrimes such as cyberbullying. The Police Information Technology and Cyber Unit, has recorded an increase in cyberbullying reports.

 

Harry Noble, Consultant, PITCU

Harry Noble

“We don’t really get reports of cyberbullying per say. We get a report of a person is harassing me, insulting me. When we go deeper, how did he do it? He sent me a text, cursing me, an email or post something on Facebook or Instagram. So this is how we get to it. It is reported as general crime but there has been an increased.”

 

The increase of cyberbullying and cybercrimes and the accelerated rate of those crimes have prompted the authorities to look at advancing cyberbullying amendments to Belize’s Criminal Code. The Office of the Special Envoy for Women and Children along with relevant partners today hosted a forum which seeks to do just that.

 

Kim Simplis Barrow

Kim Simplis Barrow, Special Envoy for Women and Children

“My office along with the Ministry of Human Development, we wanted to make sure that we have legislation in place to protect our vulnerable population. It is not only about getting the legislation, it is also about ensuring that we have a good advocacy campaign for everyone, but particularly our young people. In addition to that it is about ensuring that the judicial system, that the security force, the cyber crime unit are equipped with resources.”

 

Special Envoy for Women and Children Kim Simplis Barrow says the forum seeks to not only highlight the necessity and urgency of cyberbullying legislation to key persons, but provide cyber-crime related education to the general public, and begin the drafting of cyberbullying legislation. That drafting begins with determining what constitutes cyberbullying.

 

Kim Simplis Barrow

 

“Cyberbullying is broad. When we talk about people sharing sexually explicit videos of nudes of someone, that falls under cyber crime but there are so many different levels to cyber crime and so this afternoon we will be talking all those levels of cyber crime to ensure that our legislation is as robust as possible.”

 

A major factor in advancing the forum’s goal is successful prosecution, conviction and heavier penalties including jail time. As it stands now, cyberbullying is seen as a misdemeanor under the laws of Belize.

 

Harry Noble

“Presently, all we can do once somebody comes and complains about cyber bullying is charged with a mischievous act which basically carries no kind of punishment. It creates the idea of impunity that I can do this and get away so it encourages it. So by having his kind of legislation that makes it a crime makes it a bigger punishment people will think twice before they commit cyberbullying crimes.”

 

Consultant for the Police Information Technology and Cyber Unit, Harry Noble, says that the unit works with foreign agencies to capture cybercriminals who believe they can escape the law.

 

Harry Noble

“We have been contacting Facebook. They have a section for police and legal assignments. We tell them about the crimes and they say show us that it is a crime and that we are prosecuting it and they will give us evidence. When we get that that is how we get it back. We are working with the National Security Council on developing a cyber strategy, which would then drive the crime cyber legislation. Right now we are in the process of developing the strategy, presenting it to the government and from there cyber legislation will flow in a more comprehensive basis.”

 

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Hipolito Novelo.


Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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