Police, press cooperation

Letters to the Editor

Police, press cooperation

Friday, March 13, 2020

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Dear Editor,

The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) has written to Police Commissioner Major General Antony Anderson after receiving a report that police personnel threatened, intimidated, and chased away a photojournalist who attempted to document a crime scene in the course of his duties on Monday, March 9, 2020, in Mandeville, Manchester.

The incident is alleged to have occurred at the intersection of Caledonia Road and Ward Avenue about 10:30 am.

The freelance photographer, who was on assignment for the Jamaica Observer, claims the police threatened to arrest him if he took photographs.

The PAJ has spoken with the photographer involved and is satisfied he did not attempt to impede the policemen in the execution of their duties.

We note there have been similar occurrences involving the police and journalists in the past.

Even as we acknowledge the duty of the police to maintain control of crime and incident scenes, the PAJ asserts that the media have a legitimate role to play by informing the public of such events.

The PAJ is appealing to the high command and all members of the Jamaica Constabulary Force to allow journalists, including photojournalists, to do their job without interference.

Journalists have a right to photograph and report events that occur on public thoroughfares and property.

The police do not have the authority to prevent a journalist taking a photograph. Neither do they have authority to confiscate from journalists any equipment or material, unless journalists unlawfully obstruct or interfere with police operations.

Respect for the work of the media is crucial for the preservation of democracy, transparency and freedom.

The PAJ is also requesting that police personnel refrain from unreasonably restricting journalists from taking pictures or asking questions at crime and incident scenes as this constitutes abuse of power and interference with freedom of the press.

George Davis

President

Press Association of Jamaica


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