OSCE media freedom representative welcomes steps to decriminalize defamation in Lithuania, recommends abolishing remaining provisions
SKOPJE, 10 February 2014 – OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media Dunja Mijatović today welcomed proposed amendments to Lithuanian Criminal Code and Code of Administrative Offences which would decriminalize most defamation offenses.
“I welcome the efforts of the authorities to decriminalize defamation. These amendments will have a positive impact on freedom of the media,” Mijatović wrote in a letter to Loreta Graužinienė, Speaker of the Seimas (Parliament) presenting a legal review of the amendments commissioned by her office.
“I am especially pleased that the amendments propose abolishing imprisonment as a punishment for libel as it represents a disproportionate interference with the right to freedom of expression in a democratic state,” Mijatović said.
However, Mijatović also noted that the proposed amendments still contain provisions providing special protection for the reputation of public figures.
“These remaining provisions should be abolished to avoid a chilling effect on free expression. In this regard, the legal review offers a number of recommendations that would improve the amendments which I trust will be taken into account when further debating the legislation in Parliament,” Mijatović said.
Mijatović reiterated her readiness to continue working with the Lithuanian authorities on decriminalization of defamation in line with OSCE commitments and international standards.
The legal review is available here: www.osce.org/fom/111060
Mijatović is in Skopje on an official visit.