The Press Union of Liberia commends 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 here.
President Weah on 31st May 2018 submitted a draft legislation, which
at the time sought to amend Chapter 11 of the Penal Law of 1978, repealing
Sections 11.11 on criminal libel against the President; 11.12 on
Sedition and 11.14 on criminal malevolence, respectively.
According to a release, the Press Union of Liberia says it 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 release notes that the 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
“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 law 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 notes.
The former president of the PUL used up his mandate as
leader of the journalism community, 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 urges government agencies
whose responsibilities fall in the realm of ongoing media reforms in
the country to remain engaged to enable the formulation of an
internationally acceptable regulatory regime for the media sector in Liberia.