Trinidad and Tobago Prime Minister Promises to Initiate Review of Nation’s Defamation Laws
Wednesday, 27 June 2012
Kamla Persad-Bissessar Makes Pledge During Closing Ceremony of IPI’s World CongressBy: Steven M. Ellis, IPI Senior Press Freedom Adviser
PORT OF SPAIN, June 26, 2012 – The prime minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, today promised to initiate a review of the nation’s criminal defamation laws.
Persad-Bissessar made the pledge to an assembly of members of the International Press Institute (IPI) at the Diplomatic Centre in Port of Spain during the closing ceremony of IPI’s 61st annual World Congress.
IPI Executive Director Alison Bethel McKenzie said: “We are very pleased that Prime Minister Persad-Bissessar has agreed to review her nation’s defamation laws and we hope that this is the first step toward legal reforms in Trinidad and Tobago that will protect the rights of journalists to report freely and accurately without fear of retribution for raising unpopular truths. We are also very grateful for the prime minister’s support for our World Congress.”
Persad-Bissessar’s pledge followed sustained calls for decriminalisation of defamation by IPI members throughout the Congress, which began June 24. It also came on the heels of a recently-concluded press freedom mission before and during the Congress by IPI delegates who visited Barbados, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago.
That mission was part of a push by IPI to abolish criminal defamation and insult laws throughout the Caribbean.