A law promoting free speech, expression, independence and the safety of the Liberian Press, known as Kamara Abdullah Kamara Act of Press Freedom, has been approved by the Honorable House of Representatives.
The House amended (cancel) or modified the Liberian Codes Revised, Penal Law of 1978 of the Republic of Liberia, Chapter 11, by repealing section 11:11 on criminal libel against the President; 11.12 on Sedition and 11.14 on criminal malevolence.
Members of the House of Representatives unanimously approved the Kamara Abdullah Kamara Act of Press Freedom on Tuesday, July 3, 2018, during the 42nd Day Sitting, following a report from the House’s Joint Committee on Information, Cultural & Tourism and Judiciary.
“Whereas, it has been determined that the Penal Law of Liberia of Liberia contains some provisions which have the tendency to impede freedom of speech and expression contrast to the spirit and intent of the Declaration of Table Mountain and other international conventions,” the report said.
It may be recalled, in a public hearing on Monday, July 2, 2018, held by the Joint Committee on Information, Broadcast, Culture & Tourism and Judiciary in the Joint Chamber of the Legislature, the media related institutions and executives argued that all criminal defamation laws should be abolished and replaced, where necessary, with appropriate civil defamation laws.
Mr. Peter Quaqua, the former President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL) and President of the West African Journalists Association (WAJA) and the President of PUL, Mr. Charles Coffey said the repeal is necessary to promote free speech and expression and the affect the human right indicators in the country.
They thanked President George M. Weah for resubmitting the de-criminalization of the Press Freedom, and renaming it in memorial of former PUL President Kamara Abdullai Kamara.
The Media Advisor of Internews, Mrs. Patmillia Doe-Paivey, Mr. Aaron Kollie, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Power TV/Power FM and former PUL President Mr. James Kiazolu, argued that ‘draculian laws’ do not seek the safety of the press.
Meanwhile, the Deputy Minister for Administration Daniel Garyoue and the Deputy Minister for Public Affairs, Eugene Fargon said the President supports decriminalizing Press Freedom and recognized that freedom of speech and expression promotes democracy, good governance as well as the rule of law which is a “sine qua non” to the development of any government.
The two Ministers, in separate remarks, said the government would support civil defamation laws over criminal defamation and libel.
It may be recalled, President George M. Weah submitted the Kamara Abdullai Kamara Act of Press Freedom to the Legislature on May 31, 2018, and it formed part of June 5, 2018 agenda of the House of Representatives to deliberations.
The Proposed Law was sent to the Liberian Senate for Concurrence.