Pacific Media Watch

20 December 2017

SAMOA: Parliament votes to bring back criminal libel law over social media

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Samioa's Parliament ... unanimous vote in favour of criminal libel legislation. Image: Autagavaia Tipi Autagavaia/RNZI Pacific

APIA (RNZI Pacific/Pacific Media Watch): Samoa's Parliament has unanimously voted to restore a criminal libel law that had been repealed four years ago.

The Justice Minister, Fa'aolesa Katopau Ainu'u, told Parliament the government's objective was to protect innocent members of the public.

Fa'aolesa said people were being harmed by others through publications and opinions on social media.

The revived law would allow people who had been harmed to claim for defamation in the courts, he said.

While it was unanimously endorsed by Parliament, the libel laws came up against opposition in the country, particularly from the country's journalists' association.

Its acting president of the Journalists Association of Samoa (JAWS), Rudy Bartley, last month said the government should instead find a more realistic solution for tracking down so-called "ghost writers" instead of tarnishing the work and integrity of the media.

The libel law was originally repealed in 2013 on the recommendation of the Samoa Law Reform Commission.

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