Abolition of Libel as a Legal Offence in Abkhazia

Organization: Union of Journalists and Media Workers in Abkhazia

Location: Abkhazia

Year: 2012

A daring campaign of the Abkhaz association of journalists strives to abolish the legal offence of libel, due to which journalists may be convicted and receive even a prison sentence. At the same time there is serious concern over the offence being used as a means of suppressing free speech.

For instance, there is a recent case of a journalist who criticized the former Abkhaz President Sergei Bagapsh. The journalist was convicted of libel and given a suspended sentence. Later it was revealed that the information released by the journalist was true. Nevertheless, the legal offence of libel does not rest on good grounds because the releasing of false information in media can either be viewed as an administrative offence, or the aggrieved person may claim compensation by means of a civil action.

NESEHNUTÍ supports a project running a large media campaign, during which several roundtables were held on the topic, and negotiations with politicians and other activities tookplace with the aim to remove the legal offence of libel from the criminal code.

There is also a discussion group on Facebook.

Selected media coverage of the topic (in Russian):

В Ассоциации работников СМИ РА прошел круглый стол на тему «Декриминализация диффамации» (17. 8. 2012)

«Декриминализация диффамации». (20. 8. 2012)

Все, что творится там, перескакивает сюда” (21. 8. 2012)

Клевета с облегченной ответственностью (3. 10. 2012)