11.03.2019 08:40 Age: 77 days
Category: Media Matters
Liberia repeals Criminal Libel law.
The President of the Republic of Liberia, George Manneh Weah, has signed into law the Kamara Abdullai Kamara Act of Press freedom.
he law amended chapter 11 of the Penal law of 1978 repealing sections 11.11 on criminal libel against the president, sedition and criminal malevolence, and assures more leeway for responsible media practice, including the abolition of prison terms for press offenses.
It is named after the former President of the Press Union of Liberia, Kamara Abdullai Kamara who has been credited for the “assiduous work committed to the cause of freedom of speech in Liberia”.
Prior to the signing into law of the act, speech offenses were prosecuted in criminal courts in Liberia and was viewed as “a tool to intimidate and punish journalists and political opponents without trial”.
In the past crippling fines, arbitrary closures or long custodial sentences have been handed out for publishing information deemed defamatory. In 2013, Rodney Sieh, the managing editor of the Frontpage Africa newspaper, was sentenced to 5,000 years in prison.
Media stakeholders, including the Media Foundation of West Africa (MFWA) have, however, called for the implementation of the law, without restrictions.
“The MFWA urges the media to take advantage of the repeal of criminal libel to improve their performance as a watchdog and source of information and education on critical national development issues, especially good governance and public service delivery”, the MFWA said in a statement.