On whether to Decriminalize Defamation

So you think you can walk away with ruining someone’s reputation, just because you are a journalist! What ethics would justify journalists if something as simple as writing a correct story fails them? Do you have any idea what your misguided reporting can cost institutions, your country as well as individuals?

So you think you can walk away with ruining someone’s reputation, just because you are a journalist! What ethics would justify journalists if something as simple as writing a correct story fails them? Do you have any idea what your misguided reporting can cost institutions, your country as well as individuals?

Much as defamation is sugar-courted at times, it’s as dangerous as its definition states.

Defamation is a false accusation of an offence or a malicious representation of someone’s words or actions. In other word, the law against defamation is necessary to protect personal characters and institutions from destructive attacks. I don’t intend to exaggerate but the law of defamation should be made heavier so that it will be a lesson to anyone who pleads guilty and the rest of the good for nothing journalists who would give anything to report negative fallacies. Do you still feel for the culprits of defamation, here is why the law should deal with defamers accordingly:

Defamation tarnishes. Like the Bible says, “a good name is better than wealth.” It’s a good name first, and the rest follows. So, what happens if one journalist writes nonsense about a name? The hurting fact is that defamation is mostly intentional.

Yes, this competitive world has exposed journalists to no option but to scavenge for a few bucks even when it means going against the principles of journalism. By doing so they are exposed to corruption by officials and as a result end up selling their souls to them.

At the end of the day, a corrupt media will thrive. What will become of truth-based stories that are meant to bring positive change to the society?

If defamers claim that they are being falsely accused, then let them produce evidence. The law regarding defamation in Rwanda avails defense when journalists prove that what they have written is substantially true.

One of the ways in which the media is wrongly used and represented is through defamation. The principles surrounding defamation are reporting wrongly with an aim of destruction. If the Rwandan media was conscious about defamation, the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi wouldn’t have occurred to such a grave extent. During the pre-genocide era, journalists were at the forefront of dehumanizing the Tusti as intruders, animals and aliens, no wonder, the campaign to finish them off completely was inevitable.

If defamation is decriminalized, fake reporters would be protected and media professionalism would lose its true meaning. Now, if there is a law against defamation, at least the victimized would seek justice rather than retire early to their graves.

A journalist’s role is to be the society’s watchdog. Writing stories based on facts and truth. If truth doesn’t justify journalism, then what will?

lillianean@yahoo.com

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