SL praised for abolishing criminal defamation
Commonwealth publishers and editors paid a handsome compliment to Sri Lanka for abolishing criminal defamation, and urged other Commonwealth Governments to do the same, when they met at their biennial meeting in Australia this week.

In a resolution passed by Commonwealth editors when they met earlier in Manley, Sydney and later ratified by the publishers at their meeting, the Commonwealth Press Union (CPU), which has been spearheading a campaign to have laws of criminal libel abolished in the Commonwealth, has specifically targeted the United Kingdom as a country, which despite not implementing the laws of criminal libel for the past 25 years, has still to formally repeal the law.

The proposal was initiated by editors from Zimbabwe who said they were facing the brunt of this law as a deliberate policy of press suppression. The full text of the resolution, released through the Editors Guild of Sri Lanka is as follows;

"This Forum deplores the continued existence of Criminal Defamation laws around the Commonwealth and their use to inhibit press freedom. It welcomes the action of those nations such as Ghana and Sri Lanka which have repealed the law.

We call upon Commonwealth Governments to repeal all remaining criminal defamation measures as incompatible with modern democratic practice. This particularly applies to the United Kingdom, whose antiquated Criminal Defamation law was the model for most legislation around the Commonwealth. It was used to suppress nationalist voices in the past and continues to be used today by many nations, as justification for Draconian acts against the press."

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