Debate on Defamation Act to begin in Senate
THE SENATE will today start the debate on the Defamation Act, which is to replace the decades-old libel and slander laws.
Jamaica currently operates with a Libel and Slander Act, which was passed in 1851, and the Defamation Act, which was passed in 1961.
In March, Justice Minister Mark Golding tabled a new defamation bill, which is the result of decades of advocacy by the press and civil-society groups.
A former Cabinet minister, Justice Hugh Small, in 2008, delivered a report titled the 'Review of Jamaica's Defamation Laws', after he was invited by then Prime Minister Bruce Golding to review the law on defamation and to make recommendations for "changes that will ensure transparency and accountability in the context of a new framework of good governance".
The memorandum of objects and reasons of the bill, on which debate will start today, says the proposed statute seeks to amend the defamation law to address the inadequacies of the present libel law.
This will be done by imple-menting recommendations made in the report of the joint select committee of Parliament on the reform of Jamaica's defamation laws.
A key feature of the bill is the abolition of the distinction between libel and slander and the establishment of a single cause of action to be known as defamation.