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Protecting a Right or Harassment?

Dated: [bxcode.pagedata.date]

In a judgement delivered on the 25th September 2019, the Court of Criminal Appeal helped us understand further what is tantamount to harassment.

The parte civile in these proceedings carried out their business activities in close proximity to the residence of the accused. The business activities referred to a warehouse used by an import/export company and a panel beater/sprayer. Both these commercial entities had been operating in these premises for a considerable number of years and well before the arrival of the accused in the area.

The accused was not happy with the situation since he felt it disrupted the neighbourhood and moreover, he contended that the way the parte civile were conducting their business operations was not in conformity with the law.

To this effect he embarked on a crusade to highlight these irregularities and collect the necessary evidence to be able to produce same in the relative Court proceedings. It was the way the accused decided to collect his evidence that was here being questioned. The Court was asked to examine the modus operandi of the accused and decide whether, by his actions, the accused was actually seeking to protect his rights or rather harassing the owners of the commercial establishments that operated next to his residence, namely the parte civile.

The acts which the accused carried out were the following:
1.)    Constantly and repeatedly taking photos of the parte civile.
2.)    Taking photos of vehicles belonging to their clients or persons who were using the services of the parte civile.
3.)    Jotting down on note books the numbers of vehicles parked in the vicinity.
4.)    Posting on Facebook the various photos they took and commenting on social media about what the accused claimed was an illegal state of affairs.

The Court of Criminal Appeal came to conclusion that when one examined all these acts and that these were carried out repeatedly and excessively, then the accused was by far going beyond collecting evidence. In fact, the Court of Criminal Appeal concluded that the accused was acting in this way to annoy the parte civile in the hope that he would make them feel uncomfortable at their place of work and harm their business. This was not the way one protected a right or collected evidence the Court of Criminal Appeal concluded. This was tantamount to harassment and consequently the accused was found guilty of this charge and condemned accordingly.

Dr Joseph Giglio appeared for the owners of the commercial establishments.

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