Calls for in­ves­ti­ga­tions into at­tacks on jour­nal­ists in Trinidad

The Star (St. Lucia) - - REGIONAL -

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.

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