Today, the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament will be discussing The Libel and Defamation (Amendment) Bill, 2013. This amendment to the Libel and Defamation Act, Chap. 11:16 will abolish malicious defamatory libel.
At present, under Section 9 of the Libel and Defamation Act for the malicious publication of any defamatory libel, a journalist can be sentenced to imprisonment. Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar first took a note to Cabinet to amend these laws on May 1st 2013.
However, Section 8 of the Libel and Defamation Act will remain part of the laws – The intentional publication of defamatory libel remains a criminal offence.
As such, media personnel are encouraged to practice responsible reporting, and to ensure legitimacy and accuracy in their reports. Thus, before publishing any article, a comprehensive investigation should be done on the matter at hand.
The Prime Minister understands the importance of defending media freedom because without a free media this democracy would be deformed. She believes that the proposed amendment would “allow members of the media fraternity to engage in responsible journalism and to tell the story without fear of criminal liability.”
In 2013, the World Press Freedom Index ranked Trinidad and Tobago 44th out of 179 countries. The government of Trinidad and Tobago is determined to improve the nation’s placing.
Quote- Prime Minister Kamla Persad Bissessar on World Press Freedom Day 2012:
“Governments need to listen to what people are saying. A free and responsible media is an asset to any government, especially in emerging nations such as ours.”
“Robust discussion and even disagreement, criticism and consensus are the blood that flows through the veins of the free media. It must never be mistaken as an attack on press freedom but rather reflection and manifestation of that very free press.”
For more information visit the official website of the Trinidad and Tobago Parliament: