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Penalties to be increased for spreading, publishing false news

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Posted: Wednesday, September 1, 2021. 7:57 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: After legislative overhaul, persons caught spreading and publishing false news will now face heavier penalties.

At the House of Representatives on Friday, the Government will introduce an amendment, approved by Cabinet on Tuesday, to amend the Summary Jurisdiction (Offences) Act Chapter 98 of the Substantive Laws of Belize to increase the penalty for the offence of spreading or publishing false news.

Currently the fine is a maximum of three hundred dollars or a term behind bars of up to six months; it will be increased tenfold to $3,000 with jail time remaining the same.

Several persons including activist Jose Luis Uc Espat and attorney Arthur Saldivar were arrested last year in respect of public statements deemed false but their cases as far as we know are still before the courts.

Separately, Cabinet gave its approval to amend the Court of Appeal Act and Court Rules to allow the Court to exercise its discretion as the Justice of the case requires on applications to extend time for appeals. Presently it must be filed within 21 days of the date of judgment for civil actions and of sentencing for criminal cases.

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