Article 19 launched a map of civil defamation worldwide this week, based on two years of research covering 176 countries.
"Mapping the terrain of civil defamation across the world Article 19 unearths otherwise hidden contours of oppression, censorship and legal intimidation," says Dr Agnès Callamard, Article 19 Executive Director. "The findings of our research are shocking."
Article 19's global study reveals civil defamation cases are often politically motivated and cripple journalists and newspapers in their efforts to report on corruption and abuses of state power. Claims for damages to reputation are frequently so high that journalists and editors may avoid critical coverage in order to be spared costly law suits that would mean the end of their livelihood and publication altogether.
In Malaysia almost every newspaper has been sued under the Defamation Act and claims for damages have reached US$30 million. And in the United Arab Emirates, a website owner was ordered to pay US$19,000 in damages to a local official and was subsequently forced to shut down his site.
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