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Access to information top priority for Caribbean Journalists

ACM1-logoFree access to information remains high on the agenda of Caribbean journalists as they joined their counterparts around the world on May third in observing World Press Freedom Day. The Trinidad-based Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) Tuesday reiterated its call for free access to official information in the development process. Meanwhile the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) has called on the new Andrew Holness led administration to give urgent attention to making “long-awaited” amendments to the Access to Information Act and the repealing of the Official Secrets Act.Freedpom-House-logo

In a message marking World Press Freedom day, the ACM said that it has joined with partner organisations all over the world – through the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) – in successfully lobbying for inclusion of the principle of open public access to information in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year’s theme is “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms – This is your right!” “That the measure was eventually included as Goal 16.10 signalled to us that this small region is capable of contributing meaningfully to the global conversation on the value of free access to official information in the development process,” the ACM stated.

press freedom your rightIt recalled that Last October, at its Biennial General Assembly in Trinidad, the ACM passed a resolution reminding all Caribbean governments that each country has a “moral, political and legal obligation to its citizens to ensure that these rights are respected. “We also called on all states to take “prompt and credible steps towards fulfilment of this goal, insofar as it may require the advancing, passage and promulgation of Freedom of Access to Information legislation and regulations.”

In Montserrat, the islands’ longest serving journalist and Publisher of the Montserrat Reporter Bennette Roach noted, “While in Montserrat, there is no direct threat to ‘press freedom’, indeed most of the Caribbean enjoys some level of it, access to information can be burdensome, with authorities not caring nor understanding their obligations to the people’s right to information. It is in this area Montserrat can seek to improve. The private and independent press does not enjoy anything near the support given to public or government media. The print media has been the target, where denial of government business has sought to silence and make it irrelevant, unfortunately to their own detriment.”images world press freedom day may 3

Caribbean journalists have expressed the view that the thrust of this year’s theme is of particular relevance to journalists in the Caribbean “as we continue to push for more transparency and access to information from those in authority.”

The relevance of this year’s  theme can be seen in reference to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and in particular Goal 16 which is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all and building effective accountable institutions at all levels.

PAJ president Dionne Jackson Miller in a press release stated, “it is in this context that the PAJ is again highlighting the long overdue amendments to the Access to Information Act and the need to repeal the Official Secrets Act – “an incongruous and anachronistic law which is out of step with the modern emphasis on transparency and accountability”.

St. Lucia tops press freedom in the Americas

Meanwhile Freedom House has placed St. Lucia 11 in a global rank of 199 countries surveyed. It is followed by St. Vincent and the Grenadines as the second top country in the Americas for press freedom. Kingstown has a global ranking of 17; with Barbados and Jamaica who are both placed fourth with a global ranking of 21, followed by St. Kitts-Nevis in the seventh position with a global ranking of 25.

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ACM1-logoFree access to information remains high on the agenda of Caribbean journalists as they joined their counterparts around the world on May third in observing World Press Freedom Day. The Trinidad-based Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) Tuesday reiterated its call for free access to official information in the development process. Meanwhile the Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) has called on the new Andrew Holness led administration to give urgent attention to making “long-awaited” amendments to the Access to Information Act and the repealing of the Official Secrets Act.Freedpom-House-logo

In a message marking World Press Freedom day, the ACM said that it has joined with partner organisations all over the world – through the Global Forum for Media Development (GFMD) – in successfully lobbying for inclusion of the principle of open public access to information in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This year’s theme is “Access to Information and Fundamental Freedoms – This is your right!” “That the measure was eventually included as Goal 16.10 signalled to us that this small region is capable of contributing meaningfully to the global conversation on the value of free access to official information in the development process,” the ACM stated.

press freedom your rightIt recalled that Last October, at its Biennial General Assembly in Trinidad, the ACM passed a resolution reminding all Caribbean governments that each country has a “moral, political and legal obligation to its citizens to ensure that these rights are respected. “We also called on all states to take “prompt and credible steps towards fulfilment of this goal, insofar as it may require the advancing, passage and promulgation of Freedom of Access to Information legislation and regulations.”

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In Montserrat, the islands’ longest serving journalist and Publisher of the Montserrat Reporter Bennette Roach noted, “While in Montserrat, there is no direct threat to ‘press freedom’, indeed most of the Caribbean enjoys some level of it, access to information can be burdensome, with authorities not caring nor understanding their obligations to the people’s right to information. It is in this area Montserrat can seek to improve. The private and independent press does not enjoy anything near the support given to public or government media. The print media has been the target, where denial of government business has sought to silence and make it irrelevant, unfortunately to their own detriment.”images world press freedom day may 3

Caribbean journalists have expressed the view that the thrust of this year’s theme is of particular relevance to journalists in the Caribbean “as we continue to push for more transparency and access to information from those in authority.”

The relevance of this year’s  theme can be seen in reference to the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals and in particular Goal 16 which is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all and building effective accountable institutions at all levels.

PAJ president Dionne Jackson Miller in a press release stated, “it is in this context that the PAJ is again highlighting the long overdue amendments to the Access to Information Act and the need to repeal the Official Secrets Act – “an incongruous and anachronistic law which is out of step with the modern emphasis on transparency and accountability”.

St. Lucia tops press freedom in the Americas

Meanwhile Freedom House has placed St. Lucia 11 in a global rank of 199 countries surveyed. It is followed by St. Vincent and the Grenadines as the second top country in the Americas for press freedom. Kingstown has a global ranking of 17; with Barbados and Jamaica who are both placed fourth with a global ranking of 21, followed by St. Kitts-Nevis in the seventh position with a global ranking of 25.

END