The office of the Senate President has made clarifications on a bill said to have passed second reading proposing a to-year jail term for users of social media who pass information considered to be false.
A statement by the SA New Media to the President of The Senate, Bamikole Omishore, the bill according to him is an act to prohibit frivolous petition and not to jail social media users as reported.
The statement reads:
The bill being made reference to, is An Act to Prohibit Frivolous Petitions and Other Related Matters, which absolutely makes no mention of jailing social media users.
READ: Senate Proposes 2-year Jail Term For Offenders Of False Statements On Social Media
Senator Na’Allah’s bill seeks to make illegal, the common act of individuals sponsoring frivolous petitions to tarnish/blackmail public servants or political office holders for selfish purposes. The bill also seeks to make it a requirement for petitioners to depose to an affidavit in court which will must be attached to any petition. Where such petition is discovered to be frivolous, or mischievous or the fact there in are false, the proposed bill makes it a case of perjury which is an offense under the law.
The Deputy Senate leader in his submission expressed concern that with such frivolous petitions, the right of an individual to be presumed innocent until proven guilty by a competent court, would have eroded such presumption of innocence as these petitions lead to media trials that hampers the rule of law.
In the developed societies and in particular, the US, if one files a petition with the Federal Bureau of Investigation or any other government agency, aimed at defaming someone, ruining their reputation or family and such petition is discovered to be false, such a person will be held liable and would pay dearly for it.
One can only imagine that if countries allowed dishonest elements to file petitions against their opponents without having to hold them accountable, this will amount to impunity.
Please find attached the lead debate to the said petition.
SA New Media
President of The Senate