Libel Law Review Completed and Presented to PM Golding


Prime Minister Bruce Golding said the purpose for reviewing the libel and slander laws of Jamaica was to ensure that people’s rights and reputation are protected from unjustified abuse.
He was speaking this morning (Mar. 5) at Jamaica House, at the handing over of the final report of the Libel Law Review Committee chaired by Mr. Justice Hugh Small.
Mr. Golding said the entitlements that are intrinsic to human existence must be preserved within the framework of a democratic society in which people also have a right to information. He said an informed public is the greatest safeguard of these rights as often there is abuse of systems and processes in the absence of information.
The Prime Minister said the review was an important process that should not be trivialized as the slander and libel laws have been used to deprive people of information. He said the ultimate beneficiaries of the review of these laws will be the people of Jamaica who, with adequate information, can ensure that certain things do not happen.
Mr. Golding said the task of the review committee was a difficult one, as there were different and varying views and opinions that it had to be pulled together in order to arrive at some broad recommendations. He said Cabinet would be asked to consider the recommendations in order that they can be implemented through the legislative process. He said the report would then be tabled in Parliament and made available to the public for their comments.
In December of last year, Mr. Golding established a broad-based 12 member committee to carry out a review of the slander and libel laws which date back to the mid 1800s.
The recommendations are intended to support the principle of freedom of the press and prevent the existing laws from being used to suppress information to which the public is entitled. They are also intended to impose appropriate burdens of accountability on public officials holding public trust and provide reasonable protection against false and damaging publications.
In his remarks, Mr. Justice Hugh Small said that from the consultations it was clear that there is public interest in the issue which only needs to be further stimulated.
Members of the committee are drawn from the Jamaica Bar Association, Media Association of Jamaica, Press Association of Jamaica, Jamaicans for Justice and the Parliamentary Opposition.

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