Egypt: Journalist fined for defamation

An Egyptian journalist has been fined for defamation after calling for a changes to the editorial staff of Egypt’s state-run newspapers. Hanan Youssef, deputy editor-in-chief of the local newspaper Al-Messa, was fined 10,000 Egyptian pounds (US$1,654) for defaming the paper’s former editor Khaled Imam. Youssef claimed that many Egyptian news outlets included staff members who maintained links to the ruling military regime, but did not name Imam. The journalist, who has  been supportive of the revolution and written critical articles about Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF), has said she will appeal the sentence.

Senegal: Suspended prison sentences for journalists

Two Sengalese journalists have been given suspended prison sentences after been convicted of criminal libel. Editor Mamadou Biaye and reporter Mamadou Ticko Diatta of private daily newspaper Le Quotidien were given a three month suspended sentence after the publication of an article alleging that Bakary Diémé, deputy mayor of the district of Goudomp, had links to armed separatists of the Movement of Democratic Forces of Casamance (MFDC). Le Quotidien told the court their information came from military sources, but Diémé rejected the allegations. Diémé was awarded 2 million CFA francs (US$3,500).

Mexico: Slander and libel decreminalised

Slander and libel have been decriminalised by the Mexican Senate. The senate approved the repeal of Articles 1 and 31 of the Crimes Act, with a unanimous decision. Mexico have joined El Salvador as the second Latin American country to decriminalise honour crimes. The decision follows the end of a seven-year defamation trial where the newspaper La Jornada accused magazine Letras Libres of damaging its reputation. The court determined that freedom of expression supersedes the right to honour.

Colombia: Editor given suspended prison term

The editor of a Colombian monthly newspaper has been handed a 20-month suspended sentence and a $5,500 fine. Luis Agustín González, who is both founder and editor of Cundinamarca Democrática, was convicted of criminal libel yesterday, after he published an article critical of  local politician. In a 2008 article, González expressed his dismay that Maria Leonor Serrano had announced she would be a senate candidate in the 2010 elections. The article also referred to allegations of corruption throughout her career, and covered a range of disappearances and assassinations which occurred during her tenure as a town mayor.