Libel Law Review: The Issues


Prime Minister Bruce Golding has appointed a 12-member committee to review the country’s libel and slander laws, but what are some of the critical issues surrounding the matter?
Mr. Golding had ordered the review to facilitate greater openness and transparency in governance with a view to empowering the Press to do more investigative journalism. In the Prime Minister’s own words, the decision was made to “review the libel and slander law to ensure that it cannot be used as a firewall to protect wrongdoers.”
The view is that a Press which is not shackled by excessive restrictions can better perform its duty as the Fourth Estate protecting the interests of the public and holding the feet of public officials to the fire, as it were. A free and vigorous Press is a crucial component of a modern democracy.
American Founding Father Thomas Jefferson said famously that, “were it left to me to decide whether we should have a Government without newspapers or newspapers without Government, I should not hesitate to prefer the latter.” On another occasion, he wrote that “once they (the people) become inattentive to public affairs, you and I, Congress and Assemblies and Judges and Governors shall all become wolves.”
A free and vibrant Press is vital to a functioning democracy. But exactly how the Press should function vis-

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