The Press Union of Liberia is cheered up by the President of Liberia for repeal of sections of the Penal Code that criminalized speech offenses, lauding President George Manneh Weah for signing into law a bill which repeals some sections of the Penal Code of Liberia in an effort to decriminalize Speech Offenses and create a free media environment.
President Weah on 31st May 2018 submitted the draft legislation which at the time sought to amend Chapter 11 of Penal Law of 1978, repealing Sections 11.11 on criminal libel against the President; 11.12 on Sedition and 11.14 on criminal malevolence.
A press release issued over the weekend says the Press Union of Liberia is exceedingly grateful to President George M. Weah for the political will mustered to drive the passage of the bill in the legislature.
“We are also grateful to all development partners and lovers of liberty who supported this lawmaking initiative which is part of ongoing efforts to strengthen Liberia’s growing democracy,” the PUL asseerted.
Liberia’s Constitution provides for Freedom of Speech and expression and a caution of an abuse thereof. The West African State is a signatory to the Table Mountain Declaration which demands that African countries abolish insult and criminal defamation law. Liberia also has a Freedom of Information Law (FOI) and the Independent Information Commission.
Press Union of Liberia President, Charles B. Coffey, Jr.: “We are happy that we have decriminalized speech offenses. This constitutional right must not be abused by journalists, media workers and other professionals but use in ways and manner that will contribute to nation building.
“We must at all times be cautious of our responsibilities to preserving our country’s peace and serving all of humanity. Our joy today is packaged in the fact that the slaw is named Kamara Abdullai Kamara Act of Press Freedom, in honor of the deceased immediate past President of the Press Union of Liberia (PUL),” the release further quotes the union.
The release noted that the former Press Union of Liberia President utilized his mandate as leader of the journalism community by advocating for the repeal of provisions of the Penal Law of Liberia, which hinder freedom of speech and independence of the media in Liberia.
Meanwhile, the Press Union of Liberia is urging government agencies whose responsibilities fall in the realm of ongoing media reforms in the country to remain engage to enable the formulation of an internationally acceptable regulatory regime for the media sector in Liberia, the release signed by Daniel Nyakonah, Jr., Secretary General of the Union concluded.