In February 2014, ARTICLE 19 analysed the Draft Defamation Law of Lithuania, proposed by an MP, Loreta Graužinienė. The Draft Law envisages amendments to the Criminal Code and the Code of Administrative Offences relating to defamation, insult, and contempt of court.
ARTICLE 19 finds that the Draft Law includes a number of changes which will have a positive impact on freedom of expression and media freedom in Lithuania. In particular, it decriminalises insult and limits the scope of the defamation crimes. The penalty of imprisonment for deflation is also abolished.
At the same time some aspects of the Draft Law are not in compliance with international standards. Especially:
- Defamation is not fully decriminalised;
- Public prosecutor retains powers to initiate criminal proceedings for defamation;
- The penalty of administrative arrest for insulting public officials and for bailiffs is retained in the Code of Administrative Offences;
- The protection of public officials against “insult” is not explicitly restricted to the performance of their duties.
ARTICLE 19 recommend the following:
- Defamation should be fully decriminalised.
- If criminal defamation is retained, prosecutors should be stripped of their power to launch criminal case for libel.
- The penalty of administrative arrest for insulting public officials should be removed from the Code of Administrative Offences.
- The protection of public officials against insult should be explicitly restricted to the performance of their duties.
The analysis was produced on the request of the Office of the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media. You can download it here.