The attack by Communications Minister Jamal Mohammed was "highly troubling" and indicative of a pattern of abuse by Government officials against the media, according to executive director of the International Press Institute (IPI), Alison Bethel-McKenzie.
Last week Tuesday, Mohammed sent a private and confidential e-mail to TV6 head of news Dominic Kalipersad in his private capacity, the minister describing himself as "an insignificant Muslim coolie", and attacked both TV6 and the Express, alleging the media house was biased against the People's Partnership Government.
Mohammed went further to allege the media house was in cahoots with the Opposition People's National Movement (PNM) to destabilise the Government.
The minister had also sent an e-mail to an Express journalist taking issue with an article, claiming it was taken out of context and resulted in his doctors calling him "to find out if I have thoughts of committing suicide".
The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) and Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA) also condemned Mohammed's actions.
He apologised last Thursday, saying he did not know he could not separate his private and public portfolio as Communications Minister.
However, Mohammed failed to explain why he attacked both TV6 and Express and made such allegations.
Yesterday, the IPI on its website www.freemedia.at carried an article written by Scott Griffen, press freedom adviser for Latin America and the Caribbean, entitled: "Trinidad Communications Minister uses personal e-mail to intimidate media—IPI concerned at pattern of attacks against media in Trinidad and Tobago".
According to the IPI report, Bethel-McKenzie stated: "For the Communications Minister to engage in this kind of direct intimidation of the media is highly troubling and, unfortunately, indicative of a recent pattern of abuse by Trinidadian Government officials against the press.
"The media do not exist to do the bidding of governments, but rather to serve the citizens of a given country by providing fair and accurate information about matters of public interest," she added.
"Moreover, in a democratic state such as Trinidad and Tobago, newspapers and broadcasters have the right to express their political opinions and report on the issues they—not those in power—deem as newsworthy.
"We hope that in the future Mr Mohammed will turn his attention to repealing Trinidad and Tobago's criminal defamation laws," Bethel-McKenzie stated.
The IPI report also noted Mohammed's plan to compel all private radio and television stations to carry up to one hour of Government programming per day.
"Although a 2005 concession agreement required of all broadcasters in Trinidad and Tobago contains a clause providing for official content, the Government has never before taken advantage of the provision," stated the report.
"IPI has also recently denounced what it viewed as a public campaign led in part by high-ranking Government officials to discredit two prominent Trinidadian investigative journalists, one of whom had broke a major legislative scandal that has already resulted in the resignation of the former justice minister," the report continued.
The IPI, in June this year, held its 2012 World Congress in Port of Spain.
"On that occasion, Prime Minister (Kamla) Persad-Bissessar declared her country's commitment to press freedom and announced her intention to review the country's defamation laws," stated the IPI report.
Mohammed is expected to meet with both MATT and the TTPBA next week.