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Dr Sylvia Blyden to appear in court today charged with ten counts of seditious libel

On Friday, 22nd May 2020, Dr Blyden was charged with ten counts of seditious libel under Sections 33, 32 and 27 of the notorious Public Order Act No 46 of 1965, which successive governments of Sierra Leone have used to harass, intimidate and persecute those with whom they disagree, especially journalists.

According to Section 33 (1), “any person who (a) does or attempts to do, or makes any preparation to do, or conspires with any person to do, any act with a seditious intention; or (b) utters any seditious words; or (c) prints, publishes, sells, offers for sale, distributes or reproduces any seditious publication; or (d) imports any seditious publication, unless he has no reason to believe it is seditious shall be guilty of an offence and liable for a first offence to imprisonment for a term not exceeding three years, or to a fine not exceeding one thousand leones or to both such imprisonment and fine, and for a subsequent offence shall be imprisoned for a term not exceeding seven years, and every such publication shall be forfeited to the government.”

Section  32 (1) – “Any person who publishes any false statement, rumour or report which is likely to cause fear or alarm, to the public or to disturb the public peace shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding three hundred Leones or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding twelve months, or to both such fine and imprisonment.

(2) Any person who publishes any false statement, rumour or report which is calculated to bring into disrepute any person who holds an office under the Constitution, in the discharge of his duties shall be guilty of an offence and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding five hundred Leones or to imprisonment not exceeding two years or both.”

Section 27 – “Any person who maliciously publishes any defamatory matter shall be guilty of an offence called libel and liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding seven hundred Leones or to imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or to both such fine and imprisonment.”

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