Jamaica’s Information Minister Sandrea Falconer has proposed the establishment of a Media Complaints Council, to deal with people claiming damage to their reputations from editorial content.

The creation of the council would mean that complainants would not have to go to court in the first instance, it was reported in the Caribbean Journal.

Sandrea Falconer (pictured) said: “There are many persons who can’t afford to go to court to seek damages. There are people who have suffered gross misrepresentation; who have been damagingly misquoted; and whose statements have been slanted to give a wrong impression.”

She said that establishing the council “is not asking too much of a media, which must, themselves, be accountable to the people.”

In response to concerns that that such a council could lead to increased censorship, Falconer, a former journalist, emphasised: “I don’t believe in any state regulation or censorship. I am against that.”

“The government is opposed to that and we will never go that route; the media must self-regulate,” she added.

Falconer made the call during the debate on a bill repealing defamation, libel and slander acts.

The bill seeks to streamline the current law, abolishing criminal libel and the establishment of a single cause of action called defamation.

“I call upon the Media Association of Jamaica and the Press Association of Jamaica to get together and finally establish this Media Complaints Council,” she said.

Senator Sandrea Falconer’s full statement on the defamation bill