House passes Defamation Act

House passes Defamation Act

By Balford Henry Observer Senior Staff Reporter

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

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KINGSTON, Jamaica -- The House of Representatives Tuesday passed the Defamation Act, 2013, which is aimed at addressing inadequacies in the present libel legislation.

Attorney General, Patrick Atkinson, echoed the general sentiment in both Houses of Parliament, that the gestation period of the Act was “too long a wait”, in piloting the Bill.

“The Bill has taken over six years from conception to fruition: A gestation period of so many years places too much time and labour for its delivery,” Atkinson said, noting that the consensus was “clear”, that the defamation legislation was in need of modernization.

The Act was conceived during the previous Jamaica Labour Party (JLP) administration with strong support from then Prime Minister Bruce Golding, who appointed a committee chaired by former parliamentarian and legal luminary, Hugh Small to review the laws.  The Small Committee submitted its report in February, 2008, after which a joint select committee of Parliament was appointed to review its recommendations.

The Bill, which Atkinson said should be implemented soon as it has already been passed by the Senate, repeals the Defamation Act and the Libel and Slander Act and makes new provisions for dealing with defamation.

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