The Executive Board of the International Press Institute (IPI) congratulated Grenadian Prime Minister Tillman Thomas on his government’s partial decriminalisation of defamation in a letter sent last week.
Writing on behalf of the other 27 board members, IPI Board Chair and Head of the Foundation for Investigative Journalism - Foundation 19/29 (Russia) Galina Sidorova said the legislative changes would “strengthen Grenadian democracy for generations to come” and established the country as a “clear leader in freedom of expression guarantees in the Caribbean.”
In addition to recognising Grenada’s achievement, IPI board members encouraged the government to repeal seditious libel provisions in the Grenadian Criminal Code. Section 327 of the Code contemplates prison terms of up to two years for seditious libel and was used to prosecute broadcaster Stanley Charles in 1999. Section 328 establishes defamation or insult of the sovereign as a misdemeanor, which IPI believes may affect journalists’ ability to criticise the monarch, currently Queen Elizabeth II.
Last month, IPI announced that Grenada had become the first Caribbean country to partially repeal criminal defamation after legislators removed sections Sections 252 and 253 from the Criminal Code in July. IPI, in cooperation with the Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM), is currently leading a campaign to abolish criminal defamation in the Caribbean. (IPI)