Journalists call for more transparency in regional political process

Friday, May 04, 2018

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BRIDGETOWN, Barbados (CMC) – The Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM) has issued a call for more work to done to bring about increased transparency in the political process in order to create “a Caribbean society that is more embracing of freedom of expression”.

The regional body made the statement yesterday as it joins its national affiliates and regional partners in observance of World Press Freedom Day 2018.

“This year's theme “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law,” speaks specifically to the media's fundamental role in bringing about justice, promoting transparency and strengthening democracy,” said ACM President Anika Kentish.

“Justice is not served when antiquated legislation remains on the books and politicians can use criminal defamation laws and other regulations that criminalise expression to threaten and intimidate journalists.”

According to the ACM, “the rule of law cannot be upheld when journalists are denied access to information or are punished for disseminating it”.

“As an organisation committed to press freedom, we must be concerned when cyber crime, data protection and other legislation designed to address the new reality threaten to adversely affect the work of journalists in their respective countries.”

The ACM also issued a “fervent appeal to all governments throughout the region to remove laws that encumber freedom of expression, deny access to information and prevent journalists from shining light on the truth without the threat of prosecution”.

“We also urge media workers to become more aware of laws that could curtail access to information or, worse yet, put them at risk of facing criminal penalties. I encourage everyone to use World Press Freedom Day to highlight press freedom challenges via social media with the “#pressfreedom” or “#worldpressfreedomday,” Kentish said.

This year, the ACM partnered with the Media Institute of the Caribbean to mount a five-day investigative journalism workshop, coinciding with World Press Freedom Day.

“We are delighted to provide an opportunity for regional journalists to sharpen their skills in this area as there is currently a scarcity of qualified reporters in this specialised field. Over the past year we have been working closely with the Media Institute of the Caribbean which is now a member of the Global Investigative Journalism Network. Naturally, this relationship will be critical in building capacity in this area,” the statement added.

Meanwhile, the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) renewed the call for further consultation on the Cybercrime Bill and all new legislation or amendments, which have the potential to criminalise professional journalists working in the public interest.

The association also pledged to continue monitoring local developments in the media landscape, addling that it “will speak out on those matters that could affect members and practitioners in the ongoing thrust for press freedom”.

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