THE advent of social media, its popularity and its relative ease of use has brought with it a myriad of challenges for law enforcement when crimes against individuals are perpetrated online which may include but are not limited to cyberbullying, cyber-defamation and on-line character assassination.
Online sources define cyber-bullying as an aggressive, intentional act or behavior that is carried out by a group or an individual using electronic forms of contact repeatedly and over time with the intention to harm or embarrass a person.
In developed countries these cyber-crimes are usually perpetrated by teenagers however in Namibian society, cyberbullying is usually the modus operandi of adults who have personal scores to settle and use the easiness of social media such as Facebook and WhatsApp to harass their victims given this technology’s far-reaching effects that allow for information to be spread and shared easily amongst people.
To put things into perspective I would like to state that through my own observations as an avid social media user. I have come to realise that Namibia may be developing a social problem with regards to Cyberbullying. Cyberbullying takes on many forms but for purposes of this article I will address cyber defamation and character assassination of a person online and addressing it within the context of the Namibian law whilst taking into account the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the Fundamental Human Rights and Freedoms as enshrined in Chapter 3 of the Namibian Constitution.
The UN Declaration of Human Rights Article 29 (2) pronounces itself on the rights and freedoms of the individual and the limitation thereof for purposes of securing the due recognition and respect for the rights and freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society.
Chapter 3, Article 8 (1) under the title Respect for Human Dignity expressly states that the dignity of all persons shall be inviolable.
With respect to cyber defamation which is not a specific criminal offense in terms of Namibian law but falls under the common law of crimen injuria which is defined as the act of “unlawfully, intentionally and seriously impairing the dignity of another.” One needs to ask the question as to right to legal recourse when one becomes a victim of cyber-crime.
On Namibia social media networks namely Facebook, there are pages created under the guise of ‘youth forums for social issues’ which are used to target individuals in an effort to tarnish their reputations. Character assassination in an explanation drawn from online sources is usually carried out by a narcissist and his co-dependents (zombies) in an effort to tarnish a targets (victims) reputation by employing a mix of open and covert methods to achieve their goals. These methods include raising false accusations, planting and fostering rumours, using exaggerations, misleading half-truths and the manipulation of facts to present an untrue picture of the targeted person.
What I would like to draw attention too is the need for society to take cognizance of the fact that even though these crimes take place over the internet they involve real people who suffer irreparable damage as individuals. Not only limited to the individual but their family members and work may also suffer as a result.
There is a need for law-enforcement to sensitize the nation on the criminality of engaging in acts of cyber-bullying, cyber-harassment and character assassination as there may be a lot of people who remain unaware of the criminality of their actions and are sparred on by those with influence in engaging in this destructive behavior.
There also exists a serious need for law enforcement agencies, especially the Police Cyber-Crime Unit to look into cases where people may find themselves victims of cyberbullying, character assassination, and online-harassment and deal with the perpetrators accordingly so that victims are not inclined to take the law into their own hands when they find themselves as victims.
A person’s right to dignity is enshrined in Article 8 of our Constitution as such all those perpetrating crimes against the dignity of other whether in person or online must be dealt with justly and in accordance with the law.
-Vitalio Angula is a passive revolutionary and active member of the 2nd Chapter of the Free-former movement.
Confidente. Lifting the Lid. Copyright © 2015