Govt. brings back Criminal Libel law in hunt for ‘Ghost writers’
“ …to find the writers hiding behind anonymity by using their freedom of expression to vent their vile and demeaning allegations on social media will no longer be tolerated. They should be warned now that their days of mischiefs are numbered,” – P.M. Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi
The government has asked the Attorney General’s Office to look into reintroducing the Criminal Libel law, which was abolished by the government in 2013.
The decision was revealed in a statement issued by the government’s Press Secretary last night.
It is part of efforts to address the growing number of “ghost writers” who use fake social media pages to attack members of the public.
One such page is known as “Ole Palemia.” The Police had launched an investigation to find out who is responsible for the page but up until now they have not been successful.
There are other pages.
And now the government has had enough.
“The intention is not only to protect the privacy of the individuals and the general public from unsubstantiated, vicious and inciting allegations posted by ghost writers on the social media but to safeguard and ensure peace and harmony in the country remains intact,” the statement issued last night reads.
The statement quotes Prime Minister Tuilaepa Sa’ilele Malielegaoi as saying that since the Criminal Libel law was abolished (from the Crimes Act of 2013) “some have abused the freedom to express their views in particular the defamatory allegations posted on social media.
“Some of these postings could lead to violent confrontation which may eventually cause misery to families and government will not stand by any longer,” Tuilaepa said.
Subject to approval by Parliament, the Prime Minister says the new act will ensure that the ghost writers will be brought to justice to answer to their writings.
And they could be liable to be prosecuted with offenses that will include imprisonment.
“The H.R.P.P caucus is in full support,” Tuilaepa said.
“There are 4,500 hackers in Samoa. Some are children and even lawyers are among the best hackers in the country.
“And to find the writers hiding behind anonymity by using their freedom of expression to vent their vile and demeaning allegations on social media will no longer be tolerated. They should be warned now that their days of mischiefs are numbered.”
The hackers, added the Prime Minister Tuilaepa, will be used by government to track down the ghost writers.
“It’s like using a thief to catch a thief,” he said.
The proposed Act is anticipated to be tabled in the next Parliament session.