Grenada decriminalises defamation

ST. GEORGE’S — The International Press Institute yesterday warmly congratulated Grenada on becoming the first Caribbean state to decriminalise defamation, but urged the Grenadian government to further abolish seditious libel.

According to Grenada’s Ministry of Legal Affairs, a July reform to the country’s criminal code included the repeal of Section 252, which regulated “negligent” and “intentional” libel. The provision had provided for prison terms of up to six months and two years, respectively. Section 253, which established the circumstances under which criminal defamation could be committed, was also repealed. The changes, which came to public light this week, occurred as part of the Criminal Code (Amendment) Act of 2012, a copy of which has been obtained by IPI.

The move came amid lobbying by IPI and the Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers, an IPI strategic partner. IPI and the ACM launched a campaign early this year to abolish criminal libel laws across the Caribbean, and urged Grenada Prime Minister Tillman Thomas to remove libel offences from the Criminal Code in a letter sent last May.

Grenada Attorney General Rohan A. Phillip explained to IPI over the phone: “This government, even in opposition, felt, as a wide percentage of the world does, that having criminal libel on the books is a formal hindrance to freedom of expression and of the press. We were of the view that civil responsibilities and forms of redress are adequate.” (IPI)

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