The criminalization of the defamation of the president and its impact on the freedom of information and expression
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The requirement to respect reputations of others is a cardinal one. This requirement borders on the need to respect the dignity and worth of fellow humans. In this regard people should not engage in activities either by words or in writing or even by way of signs that tarnish the image of others. What is being referred to here is the fact that one should not venture into defamatory attacks or actions that tend to lower a person's reputation in the estimation of right thinking members of society to the extent that such a person is shunned or avoided. On one hand however, is the growing desire for people to comment fairly and objectively on actions or decisions of people without being faced with legal suits for defamation. Such desire or temptation to comment on matters is even stronger were such matters emanate from public officials. Under the Zambian laws defamation is both civil and criminal. Whereas civil defamation can be commenced by any person, criminal defamation is peculiar to the president as he alone can commence a criminal suit for defamation. It is criminal defamation of the president vis-a-vis its impact on freedom of expression and information that is the subject of this study. The study comprises five Chapters and aims at showing the chilling effect that criminal defamation has on both freedom of information and expression.
- Law