Inside Samoa’s Parliament
By Lagi Keresoma
APIA, SAMOA- THURSDAY 21 DECEMBER 2017: Parliament this week passed the amendment to the principal Crimes Act 2013 that reinstates the criminal libel law and opens anyone publishing false and defamatory information against another to be punishable by law.
The amendment was to the introduction of Part 9A of the Crimes Against a Person’s reputation, Section 117A – False statement causing harm to a person’s reputation:
(1) A person commits an offence who publishes by any means information about another person, that is false, with the intention to cause harm to that person’s reputation.
(2) It is a defence under this section if the information published is true.
(3) A person who commits a crime under this section is liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding 175 penalty units, or imprisonment for a term not exceeding three months.
Reviving the law drew criticism from the media, MPs and members of the public who cite infringement of human rights and freedom of expression.
However, very serious exchanges on social media and damaging accusations against people who have no avenue for respite and argued that their own basic human rights need to be protected as well against unfounded attacks made by faceless people.
The Prime Minister Tuilaepa explained that the reasons why Government has opted to revive this law was to protect the peoples reputation from false information published on the media, social media or other platforms.
He also said that the media should not be concerned if they report and publish only facts and the truth.