VIENNA, 26 August 2010 - The OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, Dunja Mijatovic, commended today the law signed recently by U.S. President Barack Obama to protect journalists, authors and publishers from "libel tourists".
Libel tourism is a term used to describe the practice by plaintiffs to file defamation lawsuits in jurisdictions where the law provides as easier path to monetary damages.
"The US has decided not to recognize foreign judgments for defamation that are inconsistent with the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This is important for preventing powerful individuals from filing defamation suits in countries where they expect to get the most favourable ruling," said Mijatovic.
The bill was passed by Congress in July and signed by the President earlier this month.
Mijatovic said she hoped that the new legislation would stimulate other OSCE participating States to reform their defamation laws to offer more protection to free speech and foster accountability of public figures.