Calls for investigations into attacks on journalists in Trinidad
Saying that it was concerned about “threats of murder, physical assault, cyber bullying, and nuisance legal action against journalists”, the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) has called on police to investigate these reports and on government and political parties to speak out publicly against such behaviour. MATT said it also wants the Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) to outline its policy on cyber bullying, which it said has become “a perilous, far-reaching threat to Trinidad and Tobago’s democratic landscape.”
The calls follow Trinidad Express newspaper investigative journalist, Denyse Renne, being attacked on social media after writing a story on Jack Warner’s allegations of ganja being found at the private residence of Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar.
It also comes on the heels of threats reported by another Express investigative journalist, Asha Javeed, in October 2013, and two serious reports of cyber-attacks filed by Javeed earlier this year.
“We are deeply concerned about ongoing threats to free and open media coverage, including threats of murder, physical assault, cyber bullying and nuisance legal action against journalists that unduly limit their freedom of expression, particularly during the election season,” MATT said in a statement.
“Protecting freedom of expression, preventing attacks on working journalists by holding political parties and leaders to account and promoting open debate by all citizens is also the responsibility of the TTPS.
“The TTPS must promptly investigate such attacks when they do occur and bring those responsible to justice.”
MATT further called on the state-owned media company CNMG to end “slanderous and defamatory contributions from callers and immediately effect responsible moderating on-air by its presenters.”
MATT said government and leaders of all political parties also had a responsibility to demonstrate zero tolerance for supporters who slander, defame and threaten journalists. “Political parties cannot continue to remain silent while attacks against journalists are launched and sustained in their name,” it said.
The association extended solidarity to journalists who “have been and continue to be subjected to intimidation, slander, defamation and bullying in broadcast media and on social media.”
Head of the Media
Association of Trinidad and Tobago, Francesca Hawkins.