The Police are again issuing a warning to members of the public to desist from commenting publicly on sensitive matters under police investigation, or cases that are before the court.
The concerns came following several sordid and irresponsible comments made on social media and other related platforms, concerning an ongoing investigation into an alleged offence committed under the Sexual Offences Act.
It is further alleged that certain videos and audios are circulated on social media, in an attempt to identify the complainant and accused in the said matter. Not only is this type of behavior unacceptable, but it is bordering on the line of hampering future police investigations and the obstruction of justice.
Members of the public are therefore reminded that it is an offence against the Sexual Offences Act of Antigua and Barbuda No. 9 of 1995, for anyone to publish or broadcast the identity of an accused person or complainants in a sexual offence case.
The Act state: – After a person is accused of an offence under this Act, no matter likely to lead members of the public to identify a person as the complainant or as the accused in relation to that accusation shall either be published in Antigua and Barbuda in a written publication available to the public or be broadcast in Antigua and Barbuda except-
(a) Where, on the application of the complainant or the accused, the Court directs that the effect or the restriction is to impose a substantial and unreasonable restriction on the reporting of proceedings and that it is in the public interest to remove the restriction in respect of the application; or (b) In the case of an accused, after he has been tried and convicted of the offence.
Anyone who contravenes this Act is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of twenty-five thousand dollars and to imprisonment for two years; and upon conviction on indictment to a fine of twenty-five thousand dollars and to imprisonment for five years.
The cooperation of the general public is expected going forward.