IPI action call
BARBADOS’ FAILURE to amend the Defamation Act by introducing “integrity legislation” is being seen as an unfulfilled promise by a top international organization dedicated to promoting freedom of expression and the free flow of information.
The International Press Institute (IPI) yesterday stated that since a 2008 effort to amend the island’s Defamation Act, which it dubbed “a relic of British colonial rule”, the requisite amendment bill had never been submitted to Parliament.
However, IPI, the world’s oldest global Press freedom organization, said it believed Barbados was on a good path toward decriminalizing defamation and that political leaders had expressed a commitment to Press freedom and support for the IPI’s campaign to decriminalize defamation in the Caribbean.
The IPI, in a final report on its June advocacy mission to four Caribbean countries yesterday, said Prime Minister Freundel Stuart had insisted on the importance of allowing journalists to carry out their work freely and of holding public officials to a higher burden of proof in defamation cases; while Deputy Opposition Leader Dale Marshall had suggested that the lone change to the Defamation Act should be the removal of Section 34, which establishes the possibility of prison terms for libel offenders. (RJ)