Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Jamaica's PM Presses for Libel Reform & Media Complaints Commission

Bruce GoldingImage via WikipediaSince he was elected  Jamaica's Prime Minister in 2007, Bruce Golding of the Labour Party has pledged to update the Greater Antilles island nation's outdated defamation laws. According to a post on stinkyjournalism.org, the Art Science Research Laboratory's media ethics project, Golding's proposed libel law reforms are moving ahead, but his plan for a Media Complaints Commission, which would field individuals' grievances about purported journalistic misdeeds as an alternative to costly litigation, remains stuck in neutral.

Golding endorsed revisions to defamation laws suggested by retired high court Justice Hugh Small, including abolition of common-law criminal libel, the supplanting of justification with truth as a defense to libel claims, and protections for journalists who reproduce stories from recognized reputable news organizations.

A Special Select Committee comprised of members from Jamaica's bicameral Parliament presently is reviewing the proposed changes to the law. Not included among the proposed reforms is a ceiling on damages recoverable under libel suits. The Press Assn. of Jamaica said establishment of a Media Complaints Commission remains at the drawing board stage.



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