NGOCHR Calls for Protection of Journalists
The NGO Coalition on Human Rights calls for the respect of media freedom and the safety and protection of journalists.
Three journalists from regional magazine, Islands Business were taken in for questioning by police during the weekend. The journalists were questioned over a story published by Island Business about the Magistrate that ruled on the case of the locked out ATS workers last month.
“The harassment and interrogation of journalists, particularly by police, will only foster a climate of fear and intimidation for the press. It’s important to promote an enabling space for our journalists and media, to prevent self-censorship in the newsrooms and ensure people are being informed of current affairs and issues,” said NGOCHR Chair Nalini Singh.
The NGOCHR is deeply concerned with the ambiguity of the media laws and the interpretations that led to the journalists being interrogated by police. Freedom of speech, expression and publications is guaranteed under the 2013 Constitution. This is with the exception of publications that may incite violence, hatred and harm to others.
“There should be a substantive review of the media laws including the Media Development Industry Act. The NGOCHR believes that public order and national security can be upheld and protected without undermining the principles of press freedom,” said Ms. Singh.
Additionally, highlighting the role of the Media Industry Development Authority (MIDA) in taking on media complaints and the need to strengthen key CSO engagement, o develop the industry, revive the spirit of investigative journalism and ensure journalists can work without fear of being intimidated.
“Articles that criticize across the political spectrum, including authorities and the government, should not be seen as threats to national security and public order. These are essential to enable discourse and key in the democratisation process.”
The NGOCHR reiterates the need to protect journalists and protect media freedom to ensure a vibrant democracy.