State House Communication Chief reiterates Gov’t commitment
June 6, 2018
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Director of Communication at State House, Tanu Jalloh, has reiterated President Julius Maada Bio’s commitment to repealing Part Five of the 1965 Public Order Act which criminalises libel.
The Sierra Leone Association of Journalists SLAJ has over the years led a sustained campaign for the government of Sierra Leone to repeal the ‘obnoxious law’.
Part five of the Act says that: “Any person who maliciously publishes any defamatory matter knowing the same to be false shall be guilty of an offence called libel and liable on conviction to imprisonment for any term not exceeding three years or to a fine not exceeding one thousand Leones or both.”
The Act further states that: “Any person who maliciously publishes any defamatory matter shall be guilty of an offence called libel and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding seven hundred Leones or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to both such fine and imprisonment.”
Speaking last week at the headquarters of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists, Jalloh disclosed that President Bio has held over three meetings with the executive of the association and other stakeholders at State House to chart a way forward as to how the obnoxious law could be repealed.
Meanwhile, Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, had also assured the executive of SLAJ that the Sierra Leone Peoples Party-led government would fulfill all its commitment to the Sierra Leone media, including the repeal of the Criminal Libel Law.
“Let me first of all reiterate our earlier commitment to the media as a party and government. President Julius Maada Bio is very passionate about issues bordering on rights and press freedom and he is committed to repeal Part 5 of the 1965 Public Order Act which criminalises libel. He has demonstrated such commitment in public and in our private discussions with him,” said Swaray.
SLAJ President Kelvin Lewis has welcomed the pronouncement from the government and on behalf of the association has formally presented a draft policy proposal on the repeal of Part 5 of the Public Order Act, put together by the Justice Sector Coordinating Office.