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Prime Minister, the Hon. Bruce Golding, has said that the libel laws must not become a firewall that is used for the protection of unprincipled persons.
“There are people, who deserve not only to be exposed, but to be put behind bars, who are able to hold on to the libel laws and hold it up as a shield and say ‘touch me if you think you’re bad’ and I think that needs to be broken down,” Mr. Golding stated.
He was addressing the opening of the 40th annual general assembly of the Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU), on Aug. 11, at the Sunset Jamaica Grande Resort in Ocho Rios St. Ann.
The Prime Minister, in 2007, established a committee, under the chairmanship of Justice Hugh Small, to review Jamaica’s libel and slander laws. He said that the committee “did their work, they submitted their report, we took it to Parliament and it has spent a long time before a Parliamentary Committee”.
“It is getting some traction now and I am hoping that in the course of this legislative year, that the committee will complete its work, so whatever legislative changes are necessary will be implemented,” he noted.
According to the Prime Minister, the legislation will seek to create a clear distinction between the ordinary citizen and those persons, who seek, obtain, and exercise public power. He said that public officials must be prepared to be questioned about their lifestyle and behaviour.
“I believe that those of us who offer ourselves for public office, particularly elected office, where we ask the people to trust us and entrust in our hands, power, must be prepared to expose and subject ourselves to a higher standard of transparency than the ordinary citizen, who is just going about his business,” he argued.
In the meantime, he commended the work and contribution of the CBU, noting that the organisation has helped to increase and promote Caribbean identity and awareness.
“I think that you are one of the valiant soldiers in the process of meeting Caribbean integration,” he said, commending the CBU for having survived 40 years of existence despite the many challenges faced.
The CBU’s 40th general assembly concludes on Saturday, August 15.

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