FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION CAN NOT LEAD TO CRIMINAL OFFENSES
The measures taken by the government to prevent the further spread of the COVID-19 virus are drastic. Also on Bonaire and to a lesser extent on St. Eustatius and Saba, this leads to many reactions in the media, especially on social media such as Facebook.
Freedom of expression is one of the main principles of constitutional democracy. Views that may offend or distress others are permitted. However, this does not mean that freedom of expression is unlimited. However, freedom of expression can be restricted under certain conditions. This is regulated in the EVRM (European Convention on Human Rights). This includes, for example, criminal offenses such as sedition, threat and the so-called insult articles. These criminal offenses are set out in the BES Criminal Code.
Sedition is inciting something that is forbidden. By sedition, a person can incite other citizens to commit criminal offenses. Threatening someone causes him suffering or violence. An insult is an offensive expression that can affect someone’s honor and reputation. If these type of messages are posted, the Public Prosecutor’s office will instruct the police to investigate and prosecution will follow.
In 2019 a complaint was submitted in Curaçao for defamation, threats and sedition. The suspect had called on people to commit violence during radio broadcasts and on Facebook. Also, because of his statements, several threats were made. The suspect was arrested after an investigation. Recently, someone in Curaçao threatened the Prime Minister by means of a post on Facebook. That person was also arrested and an official report was made.