Sierra Leone Repeals Libel Law

Precious Lesupi

The parliamentarians of Sierra Leone unanimously approved the Independent Media Commission (IMC) Act 2020 and repealed the 1965 Public Order Act (POA) that criminalized libel and sedition on July 23rd, 2020.

Part 5 of the 1965 Public Order Act of Sierra Leone has for many years to wrongfully target and imprison media practitioners as well as silence their views by criminalising any publication that is deemed defamatory. According to the President of Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, by repealing Part 5 of the Public Order Act 1965, they have the freedom to do work without fear or favour. Equally, by enacting the new Independent Media Commission Act of 2020, the country has reminded the press of the great responsibility that comes with that freedom.

As lucrative as this change may be, many critics say that it will not help the media because the many independent publications that are registered under sole proprietorship could be closed and therefore counter the act of holding governance structures accountable and advocating for transparency.

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