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KINGSTON — Proposal for the enactment of legislation to amend the country’s defamation laws, is now the subject of Cabinet discussions, says Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz.

Speaking at post-Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House, Mr. Vaz said the proposal was submitted by the Ministry of Justice.

“This submission will be considered with the various recommendations coming out of the (Hugh Small) Committee that was established in 2007…I am expecting that this submission will go to Cabinet in June 2011, upon which drafting instructions will be given to the Chief Parliamentary Counsel once the recommendations in the submissions are approved,” he said.

Prime Minister Golding, in 2007, appointed a committee, chaired by retired justice Hugh Small, to review Jamaica's libel and slander laws and recommend changes as may be necessary, to ensure transparency and accountability within the context of good governance.

The committee was required to consider and make recommendations that would: support the principles of freedom of the press; provide reasonable protection against false and damaging publication; prevent the suppression of information to which the public is reasonably entitled; impose appropriate burdens of accountability for public officers in positions of trust; set standards for malicious intent and responsibility for due care prior to publication; evaluate actual damage caused by defamatory publications; and suggest appropriate remedies.

The Small Committee tendered its report in 2008, with some 16 recommendations,  which subsequently went before a joint Select Committee of Parliament.

The House of Representatives approved the Parliamentary report on January 25, 2011 and the Senate gave its approval on April 8.

                                                                      

By CHRIS PATTERSON, JIS Reporter