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Bill to eliminate jail terms for slander and libel presented by Congress member

(FLIP/IFEX) - The following is an abridged version of a 4 September 2008 FLIP press release:

Debate on defamation in Colombia

On 2 September, Member of Congress Roy Barreras presented a bill that would eliminate jail terms and would establish the application of fines as the primary penalty in cases of slander and libel. Although the bill cannot be a considered an initiative to decriminalise defamation and it does not constitute a structural change in the current legislation, it does open the debate about the effect that criminalisation of defamation has on freedom of expression.

With the objective of broadening the debate on the issue of the criminalisation of defamation, FLIP and the Public Interest Law Group of the University of the Andes (Grupo de Derecho de Interés Público de la Universidad de los Andes - G-DIP) conducted a seminar entitled, "Democracy, freedom of information and criminal law: An interdisciplinary dialogue on penal sanctions as a mechanism to protect honour and the good name of individuals when confronted with freedom of information abuses". As a result of the event, FLIP and G-DIP produced a document entitled, "Slander and Libel in Colombia. Democracy, freedom of information and criminal law".

The document and the bill presented by Barreras may be found at http://www.flip.org.co/veralerta.php?idAlerta=312 (in Spanish only).

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