Residents are already weighing in against the Browne
Administration’s intention to impose what they see as censorship of
During a recent outing, Information Minister Melford Nicholas told
members of the regional media that there are online outlets that use
their platforms to vilify people and push their own political agenda.
Nicholas notes that members of the public are also allowed to do the
same on these media sites.
Accordingly, he says, misinformation and disinformation are being
spread without any effort to verify claims being made.
According to the Cabinet minister, the Browne Administration is
contemplating new legislation to rein in media corporations that
facilitate defamation and vilification on their platforms.
He claims that Government does not want to embark on this type of
censorship, which, he admits, media professionals may not
But he also acknowledges that enforcement might be a challenge –
especially on those media entities using servers outside the
jurisdiction – although he is confident that something can be done to
However, local commentator Audley Phillip says the country will be
heading “in the direction of places like Iran and Russia if we try to
restrict free speech.”
Phillip notes that Antigua and Barbuda claims to be a democracy,
and yet, he says, the Government wants to stifle free speech. While
he is not condoning slanderous or defamatory statements made
about anyone, he believes that people must be free to talk.
Accordingly, he says the Administration must embrace and
encourage a society that facilitates free and open discussion on any
subject, since this is good and healthy for the Nation and helps even
Making reference to the United States, which is considered the
mecca of democracy, Phillip points out that persons are allowed to
say what they like about key political figures; and he adds that there
is nothing left to be said about President Joe Biden or Donald Trump
or several other politicians in the USA.
According to Phillip, “[Local] leaders have become too thin skinned,
overly sensitive and irritable.”
And he advises those who do not want to be subjected to constant
scrutiny, or to be criticized, to stay out of politics.
Phillip notes that even Prime Minister Gaston Browne is a fan of
social media and remains active and vibrant in almost every
dialogue – which he considers to be desirable.
Meanwhile, another critic of the Administration’s censorship plan
describes it as “nonsense!”
The woman says that Government cannot block people from
exercising their right to free speech once it is not defamatory,
libelous or slanderous.
According to her, while we may not agree with everything some of
the politicians might say, “at the end of the day everyone is entitled
to their own opinion!”