CRIMINAL DEFAMATION CONTROVERSY IN KANSAS
IPI condemns the charges and states that defamation should be dealt with under civil rather than criminal law, adding that "experiences in many democracies, including the US, show that civil damages provide ample redress to harm caused to an individual's reputation." The organisation notes that criminal sanctions such as imprisonment are a serious threat to journalism, and that "criminal defamation laws are the preferred instruments of repressive governments to silence criticism and stifle public debate."
The Kansas case also appears to run counter to ARTICLE 19's Principles on Freedom of Expression and Protection of Reputation, which state that criminal defamation laws should be repealed in favour of civil legislation. In November 2000, ARTICLE 19's principles were endorsed by the Free Expression Rapporteurs for the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, the United Nations, and the Organisation of American States [See IFEX "Communique" #9-48 and http://www.article19.org].