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President George Weah signs new press freedom act which repeals libel

Policemen patrol outside the Supreme Court in Monrovia, Liberia, 7 December 2017
Policemen patrol outside the Supreme Court in Monrovia, Liberia, 7 December 2017

HUGH KINSELLA CUNNINGHAM/AFP/Getty Images

The Center for Media Studies and Peacebuilding (CEMESP) has lauded the President of the Republic of Liberia, George Manneh Weah for signing into law the Kamara Abdullai Kamara Act of Press freedom. The law amended chapter 11 of the Penal law of 1978 repealing sections 11.11 on criminal libel against the president, sedition and criminal malevolence.

Prior to the signing into law of the act, speech offenses were prosecuted in criminal courts in Liberia. It was a tool to intimidate and punish journalists and political opponents before a trial is even started. Civil redress has now supplanted the criminal media offenses in protecting the reputation of an individual and institutions from undue libel and slander.

The Act is named after the former President of the Press Union of Liberia, now deceased who served as chairman of the board for the CEMESP.

This monumental law that assures more latitude for responsible media practice recognizes the assiduous work that the late Abdullai Kamara committed to the cause in Liberia.

Many media stakeholders have called for the practical application of the law, without manipulations to dilute the good intention so that professionalism will be exhibited by journalists in deepening democracy and human rights in Liberia.

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