Sunday, January 21, 2018

World press body calls for action by T&T

Concerns over online harassment of journalists

 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.”