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Media association blasts cops

JamaicaObserver.com

Friday, June 25, 2010 | 1:53 PM    

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MEDIA representatives are protesting against police efforts to bar them from capturing images of former Tivoli Gardens strongman Christopher 'Dudus' Coke.

While local media were bullied by security officers and prevented from taking pictures of the captured fugitive before and after his hastily arranged court appearance yesterday, foreign media photographers captured images of a smiling Coke as soon as he emerged from a New York airport later in the day.

Local media houses were forced to use images taken by the Associated Press which showed Coke in shackles.

Head of the Media Association of Jamaica Gary Allen said certain archaic laws which restrict the media from gaining access to photographs and information needs to erased from the law books.

"This highlights the disparity that is glaring about how we try to practice our journalism profession even in the public interest. Jamaicans will all see with ease through the foreign media the movement of this Jamaican subject which is a matter of high public interest," Allen told the Observer.

A Jamaican police officer agreed that media should be granted easier access to information and allowed to take photographs and video footage of suspects in shackles, much like their foreign counterparts.

"I have been trying to convince my colleagues to allow easier access but it seems they are locked into an archaic culture. They seem to think that information is their personal domain," the cop said.

Jamaican police officers tend to keep information on criminal matters close to their chests despite media workers' plea for more openness.

Jamaican reporters are not allowed to use recorders while covering court cases. Under Jamaican law, only notepads and pens are allowed as recording devices. This law severely restricts reporters' ability to effectively cover cases in court.

Despite a persistent lobby from the media that reporters be allowed to use dictaphones, no move has been made by the authorities to address this

Media houses are also barred from taking still photographs, video footage or an artist's impression of court proceedings.

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