Jamaican Information Minister Proposes “Media Complaints Council”

By: Caribbean Journal Staff - July 6, 2013

Above: Information Minister Sandrea Falconer

By the Caribbean Journal staff

Jamaican Information Minister Sandrea Falconer is proposing the establishment of a “Media Complaints Council,” which would deal with people who claim damage to their reputations due to media publications.

Ostensibly, the council would mean that aggrieved persons would not have to resort to court action.

“There are many persons who can’t afford to go to court to seek damages. There are people who have suffered gross misrepresentation; who have been damagingly misquoted; and whose statements have been slanted to give a wrong impression,” she said. “[There are] many persons who have legitimate complaints about an imperfect Press, but who have no means to seek redress, because of economic or other limitations,” she contended, while pointing out that some persons prefer to avoid court proceedings to have their grievances addressed.”

Despite the possibility that such a council, whether created by the media or the government, would lead to increased censorship, Falconer, a former journalist, cautioned that “I don’t believe in any state regulation or censorship. I am against that.”

“The government is opposed to that and we will never go that route; the media must self-regulate,” she said.

“I call upon the Media Association of Jamaica and the Press Association of Jamaica to get together and finally establish this Media Complaints Council,” she said.

Falconer made the call during the debate on a bill called “An Act to Repeal the Defamation Act and Libel and Slander Act.”

The Defamation Bill would seek to streamline and “address the inadequacies” of the current law, including the abolition of criminal libel and the establishment of a single cause of action called defamation, the government said.

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