Defamation is one thing many people believe that they know or understand.
But how far do you think they are right, when there is no specific definition for defamation?
Cambridge (2003) defines defamation as the noun of the verb defame – which is to damage the reputation of a person or a group by saying or writing bad things about them which are not true.
Parliamentarian Mohamed Nasheed adds to the above, by saying that several elements are needed when defining something as an act of defamation.
Elements for Defining Defamation
To regard something as an act of defamation, it must include all of the following 5 elements.
1. Statement – someone must have said something
2. Privileges- this is categorized into:
– Qualified Privileges: may be available to the journalist as a defense in circumstances where it is considered important that the facts be known in the public interest
3. Negligence – careless, inattentive, neglectful, willfully blind
4. Malice – intent, without just cause or reason, to commit a wrongful act that will result in harm to another.
5. The act should harm the reputation
When assessing the harm to the reputation, defining reputation and the harm to it is essential.
MP Nasheed, one of the most famous bloggers in Maldives since 17th April 2007, said that the harm to reputation can be defined as the damage to the social image of a figure, since the reputation general estimation in which a person is held by the public.
Anything beyond this or, an exaggerated sense of self-importance can be no more than ego.
Defamation laws are made both at local and international scales.
Article 17 of the United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights states:
1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.
2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
Maldives & Defamation
MP Nasheed added that Maldives has made 2 reservations to ICCPR.
Maldives entered ICCPR on 19th Sept 2006.
He further added that it could be said that Maldives is currently experiencing a vacuum.
Though the Constitution of Maldives grants Freedom of Expression, a regulatory body is still absent.
This leads to the case in which cases regarding defamation are charged between Mrf. 100-5,000, where the actual damage is not assessed.
Defamation – has been decriminalized in Maldives. Yet, MP Nasheed added that something to replace it is still missing.
However, there are some areas in the Jurisdiction which could penalize someone for an act of defamation.
MP Nasheed added that, Defamation Laws are still underdeveloped and is still developing to reach the modern day meets.
With the sum-up of the 16th Majils, talks of Defamation Laws dissolved in the Majilis floor.
Defamation & Blogging
Bloggers, orbiting in the blogosphere can today be said as the guiding stars of the institutional media.
Blog is the media of citizens.
A blogger can today change what the institutional media, like TV & Radio broadcasts.
Where blogging is reaching higher and newer levels, defamation still remains.
The Defamation Laws are to be made stronger to meet the cutting edge technology.
Defamation Law is to meet other media as well than just print or broadcast.
When reposting an article on the blog- is regarded as a new publication. This means, each case could be sued for defamation.
Therefore, the bloggers are as well to maintain an ethical Code of Conduct.
Still the question remains, which Law should be abided when suing someone for defamation? Is it by the Law of the Country which Uploaded, or by the Country which downloaded.
What should not be ignored that, ones it is downloaded, it had been communicate to another party; in other words, it is been published.