Prime Minister Dr Hubert Minnis in the House of Assembly. (BIS Photo/Yontalay Bowe)
By RASHAD ROLLE
Tribune Staff Reporter
PRIME Minister Dr Hubert Minnis railed against fake news yesterday while discussing provisions in new emergency regulations that make it an offence to spread misinformation if one knows or can be reasonably expected to know the information is false.
Among social media users, the provision appeared to be the most controversial, with critics saying it impinges on freedom of speech.
“The spread of malicious false news has the potential to: cause violence; runs on financial institutions and/or critical food and medical supplies,” Dr Minnis said in the House of Assembly.
“Such fake news may cause widespread panic that prevents citizens from following directions designed to protect their lives during a crisis. Under these regulations, no person shall publish or cause to be published, posted or re-posted over any media platform, inclusive of social media, any purported news or report or purported statement of fact, knowing or having reasonable cause to suspect the same is: untrue or false; or may incite public fear, panic or ethnic hatred.”
Dr Minnis also expressed disappointment that the new regulations leaked before the document was tabled in Parliament yesterday.
“I was very disappointed when I woke up about 4.30 this morning and saw flashed all across the internet, social media, the regulations, proclamations and other legislation that we would’ve discussed yesterday were given to members of Parliament and opposition members and what was appalling was to see that those legislation were leaked and splashed throughout the Internet,” he said.
“That is a complete breakdown of trust. I don’t know who leaked the document but the documents were supposed to be tabled in Parliament today. As leaders how can we ask the general public to trust us when we can’t trust ourselves. By leaking such a document, that in itself could’ve caused panic, fear in society.”