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KINGSTON — Minister with responsibility for Information, Telecommunications, and Special Projects, Hon. Daryl Vaz, says that Cabinet is to receive the first draft of the reformed defamation and libel legislation by September.

Making the disclosure at the weekly Post Cabinet press briefing at Jamaica House on Wednesday July 20, 2011, Mr. Vaz noted that the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has given support to the drafting of the Bill.

In 2007, Prime Minister, the Hon Bruce Golding, appointed a committee, chaired by Justice Hugh Small, to review the libel and slander laws. The committeewas mandated to recommend changes to ensure transparency and accountability, in the context of a new framework of good governance.

Speaking earlier this week at a seminar on media in democracy, at the Knutsford Court Hotel, Mr. Vaz said that Justice Small has since given his report to the Prime Minister, which has been studied by a bi-partisan committee of Parliament and its recommendations approved.

In the meantime, Minister Vaz said that the recommendations of the Joint Select Committee of Parliament reviewing the provisions of the Access to Information Act are to be forwarded to Cabinet soon for approval.

“The access to information recommendations were accepted by Parliament and it is now a matter of putting it into effect…We expect it to get to Cabinet, shortly,” he said. He added that drafting instructions were issued to the office of the Chief Parliamentary Counsel.

The Access to Information Act, which aims to preserve certain fundamental principles underlying the system of constitutional democracy, was brought into force on January 5, 2004 on a phased basis.

 

By ALECIA SMITH, JIS Reporter

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