Senior stakeholders in the media profession have called on the Minister of Information to facilitate the repeal of the criminal libel law. The 1965 seditious and libel law does not provide an enabling environment for journalists in the country.
This call was made at a round-table discussion held at the conference room of the Ministry of Information and Communications. The 1965 criminal Act provides that a publisher of defamatory material is guilty of libel and, on conviction, is punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment not exceeding two years.
The Sierra Leon Association Journalists and other stakeholders have been lobbying government to see the need to repeal the Act and this meeting is among many fora to discuss with government on ways of repealing this act.
Head of department Mass Communication Fourah Bay College, Tonya Musa said he is in support of the idea that the criminal libel law be repeal, and that they as academic institutions recommended that they do further research on the process.
Representing Media Reform Group, Ransford Wright said whenever a government seduces a journalist for libel it affect the democracy of that government. Mr Wright said if the law is repeal there should be several actions which will be profound and people would be held accountable for ethics.
Representing the Law Reform Commission, Idriss Kargbo said his commission will thoroughly study the law and look into its implication whilst supporting the Head of Department for Mass Communication for research to be conducted on the law.
Minister of Information and Communication Mohamed Bangura said president Koroma is committed to repealing the Public Order Act. Mr Bangura said as minister he is aware that the law is outdated but they should find a viable alternative to replace the law.
Deputy Minister of Information and communication Cornelius Deveaux called on the team to present a position paper to Government on the criminal Libel Law, which will help greatly in the repeal process with a focus on international best practice.
President of Sierra Leone Association of Journalist Kelvin Lewis appealed to the Government to quickly repeal this act that criminalizes the media
In an another development, at the Ministry of information and communication press conference, the Minister of Energy Ambassador Henry Macauley apologized for power cuts and water crisis in the country. Reason for the shortage of water, he said, is because the machines were not repaired during the Ebola outbreak in the country and also the hydro Thermal plants were not repaired.