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Introduction to Media Etbics

Name Se|orm Dogoe


Leve| 400
Date 29
th
Cctober 2011


1he repeal of Lhe Crlmlnal Llbel Law exempLs all medla pracLlLloners from all oLher
legal obllgaLlons ulscuss Lhls sLaLemenL ln relaLlon Lo Lhe law of conLempL and
defamaLlon generally

1he Crlmlnal Llbel law unLll 2001 was parL of Lhe defamaLlon laws of Chana Pere llbel ls
seen as a crlmlnal acL and ls governed by Lhe Crlmlnal Code 1hls acLlon wlll resulL ln Lhe
defendanL belng flned lmprlsoned or boLh lf Lhe case does noL end ln an acqulLLal lL
was deflned ln SecLlon 113 of Lhe Crlmlnal code as
A petsoo ls qollty of llbel wbo by ptlot wtltloq polotloq efflqy ot by ooy meoos
otbetwlse tboo solely by qestotes spokeo wotJs ot otbet soooJs oolowfolly pobllsbes
ooy Jefomototy mottet coocetoloq oootbet petsoo eltbet oeqllqeotly ot wltb loteot to
Jefome tbot otbet petsoo
1hls law daLes back Lo Lhe colonlal era lL was creaLed aL a Llme where newspapers were
galnlng popularlLy ln Lhe Lhen Cold CoasL and were belng used Lo preach lndependence
and self governance lL was creaLed Lo proLecL Lhe colonlal offlclals from aLLacks from
[ournallsLs AfLer lndependence Lhe nuC governmenL of Lhe fourLh republlc was noLed
for uslng Lhls law Lo lmprlson many [ournallsLs 1he law was repealed ln 2001 by Lhe n
governmenL Powever Lhey dld noL repeal Lhe Clvll Llbel Law
ln modern socleLy freedom of LhoughL and expresslon as well as an lndependenL medla
are among Lhe plllars on whlch democracy sLands Some argue LhaL Lhe desLrucLlon of
Lhese could undermlne Lhe whole democraLlc socleLy 1he Crlmlnal Llbel Law dld noL
encourage freedom of expresslon among [ournallsLs because Lhe law was Loo proLecLlve
of offlclals ln auLhorlLy lor example ln some cases Lhe LruLh of a defamaLory
sLaLemenL was no defense SecLlon 117(1) (h) of Lhe Crlmlnal Code sLaLes
1be pobllcotloo of Jefomototy mottet ls obsolotely ptlvlleqeJ ooJ oo petsoo sboll
ooJet ooy cltcomstooces be lloble to poolsbmeot ooJet tbls coJe lo tespect tbeteof lo
ooy of tbe followloq coses oomely lf tbe mottet ls ttoe ooJ lf lt ls foooJ tbot lt wos fot
tbe pobllc beoeflt tbot tbe mottet sboolJ be pobllsbeJ
1hls means LhaL lL was posslble Lo convlcL a person for publlshlng a defamaLory
sLaLemenL whlch ls Lrue buL consldered noL Lo be for Lhe publlc beneflL Such resLrlcLlons
made lL dlfflculL for [ournallsLs for [ournallsLs Lo crlLlclze governmenL offlclals
1he repeal of Lhls law saw a greaL change ln Lhe way Lhe medla operaLed lL broughL
abouL much more freedom [ournallsLs became much more darlng ln Lhelr reporLage
buL Lo say LhaL lL exempLs all medla pracLlLloners from all oLher legal obllgaLlons ls
LoLally unLrue 1here are sLlll laws LhaL proLecL Lhe repuLaLlon of lndlvlduals from
defamaLlon Lhrough llbel Cne example of such laws ls Lhe Clvll Llbel Law
under Lhls law anyone who feels defamed by a publlcaLlon ln a newspaper has Lhe rlghL
Lo sue LhaL newspaper (or anyone responslble) for damages ln one lnsLance a former
MlnlsLer of Lhe new aLrloLlc arLy (n) governmenL Pon Packman Cwusu Agyeman
sued a local newspaper 1he alaver 13 bllllon (old cedl) for defamaLlon Pavlng losL
Lhe case Lhe newspaper had Lo pay Lhls money and Lhls nearly collapsed Lhe newspaper
buL Lhe MlnlsLer reLurned Lhe money Lo Lhe edlLor Mr !oo[o 8ruce Cuansah 1hls
shows LhaL Lhe repeal of Lhe Crlmlnal Llbel Law dld noL guaranLee unllmlLed freedom of
expresslon Lo Lhe medla
under secLlon 114 of Lhe Crlmlnal Code
A mottet ls Jefomototy wblcb lmpotes to o petsoo ooy ctlme ot mlscooJoct lo ooy
pobllc offlce ot wblcb ls llkely to lojote blm lo bls occopotloo collloq ot offlce ot to
expose blm to qeoetol botteJ cootempt ot tlJlcole
SecLlon 2 of Lhe urafL uefamaLlon Law publlshed by nuC ln 1984 sLaLes LhaL
o mottet ls Jefomototy lf lt ls llkely to lojote tbe tepototloo of oootbet petsoo os to
lowet blm lo tbe estlmotloo of teosoooble membets of tbe commoolty ot Jetet membets
of tbe commoolty ftom ossoclotloq wltb blm ot to Jlspotoqe blm lo bls offlce ptofessloo
collloq ttoJe ot bosloess
Pere Lhe plalnLlff musL be able Lo esLabllsh LhaL defendanL has by Lhe wrlLLen word
defamed hlm A LesL for deflnlng defamaLory maLLer ls provlded by Lhe celebraLed
[udge Lord ALkln woolJ tbe wotJs teoJ to lowet tbe plolotlff lo tbe estlmotloo of tlqbt
tblokloq membets of soclety qeoetolly?
1

1he maLLer musL have been conveyed Lo a Lhlrd parLy by means of prlnL efflgy or words
before Lhe maLLer can be deemed defamaLory

1he law of ConLempL of CourL ls almed upholdlng Lhe dlgnlLy and auLhorlLy of Lhe
[udlclal sysLem SecLlon 113 of Lhe Crlmlnal Code deflnes crlmlnal llbel as
A petsoo ls qollty of llbel wbo by ptlot wtltloq polotloq efflqy ot by ooy meoos
otbetwlse tboo solely qestotes spokeo wotJs ot otbet soooJs oolowfolly pobllsbes ooy
Jefomototy mottet coocetoloq oootbet petsoo eltbet oeqllqeotly ot wltb loteot to
Jefome tbot otbet petsoo
1here are dlfferenL Lypes of conLempL of courL 1hose relevanL Lo medla pracLlLloners
are covered by secLlon 223 of Lhe Crlmlnal Code lL sLaLes LhaL
wboevet peoJloq ooy ptoceeJloqs lo ooy coott pobllsbes lo wtltloq ot otbetwlse
ooytbloq coocetoloq socb ptoceeJloqs ot ooy potty tbeteto wltb loteot to exclte ooy
popolot ptejoJlce fot ot oqolost ooy potty to tbe ptoceeJloqs ls qollty of o
mlsJemeooot
Chanalan courLs have also from Llme Lo Llme assumed powers Lo punlsh newspapers
whlch scandallze Lhe courL uslng common law powers 1hls occurs when a newspaper
commenLs ln lnsulLlng Lerms abouL a [udge's declslon or conducL of Lhe Lrlal 1hls ls
however noL found ln Lhe Crlmlnal Code
AnoLher conLempL of courL ls Lhe refusal Lo answer quesLlons on Lhe grounds of
professlonal eLhlcs

l1
Slm v SLreLch (1936)

JlLh all Lhese laws ln place Lo say LhaL medla pracLlLloners have been exempLed from
all oLher legal obllgaLlons would be false ln LhaL medla pracLlLloners musL be careful Lo
publlsh only whaL ls Lrue
Cne advanLage of Lhe repeal of Lhe Crlmlnal Llbel Law ls LhaL Lhe absence of LhaL
provlslon under Lhe law LhaL Lhe LruLh of a defamaLory sLaLemenL ls no defense 1hls
means LhaL where lL was once posslble Lo convlcL a person for publlshlng a defamaLory
sLaLemenL whlch ls Lrue buL consldered noL Lo be for Lhe publlc beneflL [ournallsLs can
now publlsh everyLhlng wlLhouL breaklng Lhe law provlded Lhe lnformaLlon belng
conveyed ls Lrue
1he medla also has a responslblllLy Lo respecL Lhe dlgnlLy and auLhorlLy of Lhe [udlclal
sysLem or face repercusslons for ConLempL of CourL
ln concluslon Lhe repeal of Lhe Crlmlnal Llbel Law creaLed an avenue for a bolder press
ln Chana lreedom of expresslon whlch lncludes freedom of Lhe press ls one of Lhe
plllars on whlch democracy sLands As such Lhe medla also has a role Lo play Lo ensure
LhaL Lhls democracy ls susLalned As such Lhe medla wlll always have legal obllgaLlons
and responslblllLles Lo Lhe socleLy