The People's Partnership Government is considering amending the law of defamation. This was revealed by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar during the closing ceremony for the International Press Institute's World Congress at the Diplomatic Centre in St Ann's.
Persad-Bissessar said representatives of the IPI met with Attorney General Anand Ramlogan and as a result the Government intended "to review our defamation laws to bring them in line with international best practice." She did not elaborate. President of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers, Wesley Gibbings in his initial comment on the development told the T&T Guardian: "I think this is a very positive move." He said T&T can be the regional leader on that issue.
"The real test would be to see where this will now reside on the parliamentary agenda." He said similar signals have come from two Caricom states-Barbados and Jamaica-without any decisive outcomes. The IPI has been seeking a review of laws governing criminal defamation among member nations.
Meanwhile, Persad-Bissessar said it was the responsibility of the Government "to ensure the exercise of one's freedom at no time represents an impingement of another's freedom." During her brief address on Tuesday night, Persad-Bissessar stressed the need for journalists always to strive to be responsible in the execution of their duties.
President of the Publishers and Broadcasters Association Kiran Maharaj said the Legal Affairs Ministry will collaborate with TTPBA to host a series of sessions focusing on the media and the law. At the end of the formal part of the event, a government official told local journalists they had to leave the media event to receive a boxed dinner, while the regional and international media feasted in the ballroom. The local journalists ignored the suggestion and remained in the main area, where they engaged in conversations with their overseas colleagues.