Criminal defamation was abolished in Jamaica in 2013.
Criminal Defamation of Public Officials
Criminal Defamation of the Head of State
Criminal Defamation of the State and its Symbols
Criminal Defamation of Foreign States and Symbols
Criminal Defamation of the Deceased
Other Relevant Criminal Provisions
The production or distribution of obscene publications is an offence under the Obscene Publications (Suppression of) Act of 1927. The punishment is imprisonment for up to three months.
Statistics on Application
The relevant law is the Defamation Act 2013. Defamatory matter is defined by the act as “any matter that is, may be, or is alleged to be, defamatory of another person”.
The Act abolishes the distinction between slander and libel and relates to the tort of defamation.
The Act does not cap compensation for non-pecuniary damage.
It requires damages to bear a rational relationship to the harm sustained by the plaintiff (Art. 24).
The Defamation Act 2013 establishes in statute defences of truth, fair comment, innocent dissemination, absolute privilege and qualified privilege. There is no explicit defence of public interest or reasonable publications established in statute.
Media Cases and Case Law
Recent Legal Changes
In 2013, Jamaica passed the Defamation Act 2013, which abolished criminal defamation and modernised the country’s civil defamation law. The Act repealed the Libel and Slander Act, which dated to 1851 and the Defamation Act of 1963.
The move followed a nearly seven-year debate involving representatives of the government, media, and civil society. The International Press Institute and its strategic partner, the Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM), visited the island during several press freedom missions to meet with government officials in support of the change.
The information contained in this database is for informational and advocacy purposes only. If you are a journalist facing a defamation claim, you should seek legal advice from a qualified attorney. However, if you are unable to find such an attorney, IPI may be able to assist you in doing so. Please contact us at ipi[at]freemedia.at.
Information on Jamaica was last updated in 2013.