Human rights coalition concerned at bill’lack of guiding priciples’

Nalini Singh is the Executive Director of the Fiji Womens Rights Movement and also the chair of the NGO Coalition on Human Rights chairperson Nalini Singh. Picture: Earth Negotiations Bulletin

THE NGO Coalition on Human Rights(NGOCHR) is strongly concerned with lack of guiding principles in the proposed  Online Safety  Bill 2018 (Bill No.7 of 2018).

These were the comments of NGOCHR chairperson Nalini Singh while  presenting submissions to the Standing Committee on  Justice, Law & Human Rights on the proposed Bill earlier in the day  at Government Building in Suva.

Ms Singh said the lack of guiding principles in the Bill to define and determine the scope of powers and discretion of the Online Safety Commission when receiving, assessing and investigating complaints.

“The Coalition understands that the provisions of the Bill is the direct reflection of New Zealand’s Harmful Digital Communications Act 2015.However,a few provisions have been removed. A key provision in the New Zealand Act that has been removed in the proposed Bill is the ten Communication principles,” Ms Singh said.

“The purpose of these principles is to set the tone and be the underlining guide for the commission to consider when exercising their powers under the Act.”

She said the functionality of the commission would greatly be affected by not having the stated principles.

“It is firstly needed to ensure that the public would be able to understand which type of complaints the commission will consider otherwise the commission will become inundated with complaints,” she said.

She highlighted these principles established that the digital communication should not:

  1. disclose sensitive personal facts about an individual;
  2. be threatening, intimidating, or menacing;
  3. be grossly offensive to a reasonable person in the position of the affected individual;
  4. be indecent or obscene;
  5. be used to harass an individual;
  6. make a false allegation;
  7. contain a matter that is published in breach of confidence;
  8. incite or encourage anyone to send a message to an individual for the purpose of causing harm to the individual;
  9. incite or encourage an individual to commit suicide; or
  10. denigrate an individual by reason of his or her colour, race, ethnic or national origins, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability.