The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) is condemning, unequivocally, any attempt by the TTPS to prevent or obstruct the media in the performance of their duties
MATT was responding to a TV6 news report showing police officers obstructing journalist Nisha John-Mohammed and cameraman Mike Gonzales from executing their duties in El Socorro on November 6.
In a statement issued on Thursday, MATT says it has requested an urgent meeting with Police Commissioner Gary Griffith to discuss the unsettling incident.
This, as MATT says there was an apparent attempt by a member of the public to use their perceived influence to prevent the story, which the crew was in the process of completing, from being aired as a part of the station’s newscast on that day.
The Association says this action was an affront to journalistic integrity and the obligation of all journalists to report on stories in the public interest without fear of reprisal or censorship.
“News is a commodity that belongs to the people of Trinidad & Tobago, and not the elite few or politically connected.”
MATT also notes that there is no countervailing evidence to suggest that the journalists in question were obstructing the TTPS in the performance of their duties.
“A detailed account of the incident was provided to MATT’s Executive by Ms John-Mohammed. In that account, it appears as though the TTPS employed heavy-handed tactics of intimidation and fear. Tactics, which if left uncurbed, will have a chilling effect on the media’s freedom and willingness to report on controversial matters, particularly matters involving the wealthy and politically well-connected.”
MATT has provided details of the incident to its legal counsel, Dr Emir Crowne, who has indicated “alarm and shock” at John-Mohammed’s account and the news footage provided to him.
Dr Crowne noted that “media freedom is under attack in this country…This must not be countenanced in the least. We will pursue all avenues of redress to ensure that press freedoms are not only upheld but respected.”
The Commissioner has expressed a willingness to meet and further updates will be provided as they become available.
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