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Media associations hail passage of Defamation Bill

Media associations locally and internationally continue to react to Tuesday&;s passage of the Defamation Bill in Parliament. The Media Association Jamaica Limited (MAJ) has described it as a milestone achievement from a process which began in 2007. The MAJ says the single most important element of the reform is the elimination of criminal libel. However, in spite of the passage of the legislation, the MAJ remains concerned that the new Act has not gone far enough in enabling a greater degree of accountability of public officials in their public lives and better equipping media to tackle corruption. Meanwhile, Alison Bethel McKenzie, Executive Director of the International Press Institute (IPI) describes the passage of the Defamation Bill as tremendous news for press freedom in Jamaica, the Caribbean, and the world over. She also congratulated Parliament for staying the course and removing criminal defamation from the country&;s law books and noted that while the new law represents enormous progress, it will be critical for the Jamaican courts to interpret its terms so as to always favor the media&;s right to publish information in the public interest.