IPI celebrates first success of Caribbean campaign, urges further repeal of seditious libel
Grenada has become the first Caribbean state to decriminalise defamation, leading the International Press Institute (IPI) to congratulate that nation but urge 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.
The move came amid lobbying by the IPI and the Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM), an IPI strategic partner. The 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.
Law applied recently
The decriminalisation of libel in Grenada is particularly significant, given that the country was one of the few in the Caribbean to have applied the law in recent years.
The case ultimately reached the Privy Council of the United Kingdom, which serves as the final court of appeal for much of the English-speaking Caribbean.
In George Worme and Grenada Today v Commissioner of Police of Grenada (2004), the Privy Council ruled that Section 252 amounted to a reasonable restriction on the freedom-of-expression guarantees provided in the Grenadian constitution.