The Informer (Monrovia)

Liberia: PUL Submits Draft Bill to MICAT

The Press Union of Liberia has presented a draft bill to the Ministry of Information for government's input and onward submission to the Legislature.

The draft law supports efforts to give effect to the Table Mountain Declaration, urging the repeal of laws that potentially impede free speech and press freedom.

Liberia still has such laws as Criminal Malevolence, Criminal libel against the President and Sedition as found in Chapter 11, subsections 11.11, 11.12 and 11.14 of the Penal code.

PUL says these provisions are not any less repugnant than the infamous Decree 88A, which has long been repealed by previous legislature.

President Johnson-Sirleaf on July 21, 2012 signed the Table Mountain Declaration at a ceremony in Monrovia, committing her government to abolishing "insults and criminal defamation law" in favor of civil action.

The Union also calls government's attention to Article 74 of the Liberian Constitution which mandates the Legislature to fix the penalties for contempt of court.

Without attempting to diminish the authority of the courts, the Union says it was time to push the legislature to define the punishment of contempt so that judges are not arbitrary in the use of their contempt power.

PUL President Peter Quaqua observes that "in an atmosphere of increasing advocacy for the sustenance of democracy in Liberia, the way forward is to insist on reforming the laws and the legal environment, rather than committing money political parties."

Mr. Quaqua urges members of the 53rd legislature not to quench the democratic spirit taking hold of the country, but get seized of the occasion to reassure Liberians of their democratic credentials by enacting laws that strengthens our democracy.

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