The International Press Institute (IPI) has expressed concern over reports of an escalation in online harassment of journalists in Trinidad and Tobago, ahead of elections scheduled later this year.
Port of Spain-based One Caribbean Media Group (OCM) reported a number of their journalists, many of them investigative reporters, and particularly women reporters, have been the subject of character attacks posted online they say they believe is designed to undermine their credibility and intimidate journalists ahead of general elections in September.
OCM is the parent company of Caribbean Communications Network (CCN), which operates CCN TV6 and publishes the Trinidad Express Newspapers.
Last week, Express investigative journalists Asha Javeed, Denyse Renne and Anika Gumbs, as well as columnist Sunity Maharaj, were viciously attacked on Facebook by supporters of the Government.
IPI, in a statement on its website yesterday, noted OCM said the posts were orchestrated by a network of bloggers who openly support the Government, many of whom are operating under fake identities.
It specifically cited the posting of a video depicting a journalist and her family, created from photos taken from her mobile phone, which was stolen. The video was first posted in 2013 and OCM said authorities had failed to take any action to investigate the matter.
IPI director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M Ellis called on authorities to fully investigate that case and the others.
“As elections approach, it is extremely important that journalists be allowed to do their jobs, and we urge authorities to ensure that those who harass or intimidate journalists be held accountable,” he said.
“Efforts to silence the media victimise not only the journalists targeted but also citizens’ right to have the information they need to make informed decisions about their future.”