Media Threats Coverage: the Answer to Sierra Leone&#039s Libel Rules

This report is a continuum of a sequence of relevant proposals the writer has just lately been advocating on how governmental policymakers and the insurance policy local community at massive in Sierra Leone, by utilization of a countrywide insurance policy and hazard administration system, can engender true innovation and advancement in all sectors of our nation’s socio-economic and governance infrastructure.

MEDIA Threats:

The overriding community policy need for introduction of a media challenges protection policy addressing legal responsibility inherent to the journalistic local community, exterior of the felony legislation processes, simply cannot be understated and continues to be this piece’s crucial concentration.

The articulation and advocacy of an option treatment addressing “media challenges legal responsibility” and the true troubles of perceived defamatory libel, in some cases practiced by Sierra Leonean journalists, publishers and media properties with resultant responses by largely politicians and governmental officials applying the felony legislation processes of the Point out is the concentration of this piece.

There has in the previous various a long time been a great deal community debate in Sierra Leone about repeal of the General public Purchase Act, 1965. Especially, Part V, Sections 26 to 37, pertaining to defamatory and seditious libel have drawn the irk of various members of the journalistic local community, most of whom have and continue to be subjected to threats of and real felony prosecutions for merely carrying out their job duties.

Although the concentration of the debate has largely revolved close to repeal of the obnoxious and onerous defamatory and seditious libel sections of the Act, it is having said that crucial that the tenets of accountability by publishers, journalists and media properties be enshrined in any reform proposal that is released to shield reputations of citizens.

The legislative historical past and apply of the General public Purchase Act, 1965 in Sierra Leone, having said that has been just one of a handy legal ruse utilized by successive governments to muzzle and intimidate political dissent, totally free speech and the totally free push by the felony legislation processes of the Point out. For instance, these regulations have in the recent previous been employed by politicians to incarcerate a quantity of journalists and muzzle the totally free push.

Several recent high profile felony libel and defamation instances introduced from journalists by politicians and community figures in Sierra Leone has resulted in this lookup for how “media challenges” can be sufficiently tackled within just the legal responsibility insurance policy framework.


Although defamation and libel in most frequent legislation jurisdictions are categorized as felony offences, and consequently simply cannot be covered by an insurance policy policy, they have also progressed as hybrid tort legal responsibility offences, where by an aggrieved party can seek damages and payments from an insured’s insurance policy policy for harm occasioned by defamatory or libelous publications.

The balancing act of addressing the real damages completed to reputations of citizens by libelous publications and making certain an unfettered totally free push, devoid of the threats of felony prosecutions, ought to revolve close to implementation of a market place-primarily based legal responsibility insurance policy policy with the subsequent at its main:

  • Repeal of the felony provisions of the libel, seditious libel and defamation statutes and their replacement with a tort legal responsibility routine.
  • The design and style of a media challenges legal responsibility insurance policy policy to protect promises primarily based on this sort of torts as libel, slander and defamation for practitioners of journalism in Sierra Leone.

For these unfamiliar with the industrial common legal responsibility (CGL) policy, Coverage B gives that an insurance provider will fork out these sums that an insured gets to be legally liable or obligated to fork out as damages for an “promotion harm”.

An “promotion harm” is outlined as harm or damages arising out of just one or a combination of the subsequent offences:

  • Oral or penned publication of substance that slanders or libels a individual or firm or disparages a person’s or organization’s goods, items or providers.
  • Oral or penned publications of substance that violates a person’s proper of privacy.


In the Sierra Leonean context consequently repeal of the felony provisions of the General public Purchase Act, promulgation of a tort legal responsibility legislation covering journalists and a need for proof of media legal responsibility protection by members of the fourth estate really should to all intents and reasons close the onerous effects that the media has for many years been subjected to by being criminally billed for merely carrying out their duties.

Any legal responsibility or damages accruing from the efficiency or publication of defamatory or libelous publications will be primarily based on evidence of damages and payment pursuant to the nature and extent thereof by the insurance policy policy.