Current sanctions for libel do not meet modern threats – expert
MOSCOW, November 24 (RAPSI) – The current assessment of danger posed to the society by actions, which can ruin lives of the concrete people, destabilize public order, and cause public outrage through dissemination of certain information, has become absolutely obsolete, Doctor of Jurisprudence, Professor, Chair of the Moscow Lomonosov University Department of Criminal Process Leonid Golovko believes.
The validity of this thesis is proved by the fact that currently the offence of libel, even if involving public dissemination of information known to be false via social media, media outlets and so on; abuse of office; allegations that some or other person committed grave crimes or suffer from diseases dangerous for other people, are punishable exclusively by fines and symbolic community work, the expert observes.
The Professor is of the opinion that criminal legal regulation has fallen behind the realities of the information society as the very perception of the category of danger to society needs to change; the dynamics of such a change need to reflect the dynamics of the development of the society, which becomes more and more informationally dependent.
The expert believes that criminal law insufficiently protects the society and its members from various risks and threats related to dissemination of information, as the perceptions of danger to the society remain the same as in the past, when violent crime was presumed to pose the gravest threat, whereas various information-related offences were considered much less dangerous and almost deserving decriminalization.
Libel and freedom of speech
The government needs to bring the sanctions for libel in conformity with the real degree of the danger this offence poses to the society in the modern world, when false allegations can be widely disseminated via open information channels, whereas concerns with freedom of speech in this case are unjustified, the Professor notes.
Persons are to be held criminally liable for libel only if they well know that the allegations they disseminate are false, so it is a task of criminal justice to prove such facts, whereas the concept of freedom of speech is not applicable to liars, the expert asserts.