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Govt to amend criminal defamation law
Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar will take a note to Cabinet tomorrow seeking to amend the Libel and Defamation Act, to exempt journalists from criminal libel.
The PM announced her intention to amend the act on Wednesday afternoon, after meeting with representatives of the International Press Instittute (IPI), the Association of Caribbean Media Workers and the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association.
The Vienna-based IPI is visiting several Caribbean countries from April 15 to May 6 as part of its campaign for the repeal of criminal defamation laws in the region.
The Libel and Defamation Act, Chapter 11:16 of the Laws of Trinidad and Tobago, provides at Section 13: (1) A fair and accurate report in any newspaper of proceedings publicly heard before any court exercising judicial authority shall, if published contemporaneously with the proceedings, be privileged, but nothing in this section shall authorise the publication of blasphemous or indecent matter.
Sections 9 and 10 of the Act are expected to be removed, while Section 8 is expected to remain.
Section 8 of the Libel and Defamation Act provides that "If any person maliciously publishes any defamatory libel, knowing the same to be false, he is liable on conviction to imprisonment for two years and to pay such fine as the court directs."
Section 9 states, "If any person maliciously publishes any defamatory libel, upon conviction thereof he is liable to pay a fine and to imprisonment for one year."
Section 10 details the proceedings after indictment for defamatory libel.
A further announcement is expected to be made following the weekly Cabinet meeting Thursday.