Woman Pleads Guilty to Charges Under New Cybercrime Act in St Vincent


Accused of Making Libelous Comments About Her Older Sister

KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent – A senior magistrate will decide on Friday what punishment a woman in her late 20’s will receive after she created legal history here when she became the first person to be convicted of crimes committed under the controversial Cybercrime Act.

Catisha Pierre-Jack Monday pleaded guilty to four counts of libel by electronic communication when she appeared before Senior Magistrate Rickie Burnett on Monday and faces up to two years in jail and a fine of EC$50,000.

Pierre-Jack had been accused of having made the comments about her older sister, Crystal Pierre, who filed a report with police. Pierre-Jack was booked on four charges related to four posts she admitted to having made on the social networking website, Facebook, on January 30.

However, she told the magistrate that while she made the posts, the contents complained of are true and that she has a witness who would testify that what she had said in the posts were correct.

However, the senior magistrate adjourned the hearing and sentencing to Friday, saying that he needed time to do research on the law, noting that it was the first time that such a matter was being brought before the court.

The cybercrime law was passed in 2016 amidst local, regional and international outcry. The Cybercrime Act provides up to two years in prison for online defamation. But opponents had claimed that the country’s criminal code already provides for up to two years in prison for defamation in print, writing and broadcast and the new law was intended to stifle free expression. – CMC