BEFORE YOU SPEAK OR WRITE

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Advocacy for freedom of speech and expression has superseded in the world and everyone wants to voice or write their opinion without taking defamation into account. This type of information that damages one’s character and or reputation, could land you in trouble and it can be deduced to either libel or slander.

Libel is the publication of a false statement that is damaging to someone’s character and or reputation. Slander on the other hand, is the verbal action or crime of making a false statement damaging to one’s reputation.

If one writes about a man violating his wife, and it happens that the statement is not true, then this will be defamation. If one writes “I think that man violated his wife 5 days ago”, this will be an opinion. Under the law, statements of opinion are not statements of facts, so theoretically, such statements are protected from libel suits. It is important to note that statements of opinion can also be viewed as statements of fact, depending on the circumstances. Someone may look at the statement as a statement of fact, depending on how well the family is known to the writer and why the writer believes that he violated his wife.

Statements of opinion with phrases like “I think” or “I believe”, does not automatically protect one from a defamation claim. While writing, always make sure you have all your facts right before posting and or sharing. As the internet may allow you to speak your mind, it may put you in a potentially compromising defamatory situation.

The Kenya Penal Code Section 66 Subsection (1) states that – Any person who publishes any false statement, rumour or report which is likely to cause fear and alarm to the public or to disturb the public peace is guilty of a misdemeanor.

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