On World Press Freedom Day, we can commend Jamaican governments for a free press
Children stand with a photo of Ukrainian journalist Denys Kazansky next to other participants in a demonstration against Russia’s aggression and war in Ukraine, in downtown Budapest on April 30, 2022. (Picture: AFP)
In 2019, the Jamaican government proposed extending the denial of access to Cabinet documents from 20 years to 70 years. A year later, the government excluded the media from a list of entities allowed to operate freely during COVID-19-related blackout days.
These proposals were quickly shelved after the media, with strong public support, expressed outrage that they would have seriously undermined the enjoyment of free speech and freedom of the press.
Many journalists in other parts of the world would love if that was all they had to deal with. Some lose their lives simply for covering up the activities of corrupt officials and criminal organizations.
Today, World Press Freedom Day, Jamaican journalists know that things could have been much worse if we had had governments like in some countries in Latin America, Africa and especially Asia, where the free press does not exist.
Inasmuch as the Jamaican media, acting as a fierce watchdog for the people, has beaten the various governments, it is only fair that the various political administrations be commended for the free press and the freedom of expression that we enjoy as which country.
We invite all Jamaicans to spare a thought for the journalists who cover the Russian-Ukrainian war under the most dangerous conditions in their effort to keep the world informed of the atrocities taking place in this theater of conflict.
Let us also not forget those in Russia who face severe penalties, including imprisonment, for attempting to present the facts, against the determination of Vladimir Putin’s government to spread disinformation and to muzzle independent media, such as ‘they exist.
While we remain extremely concerned about the high murder rate in Jamaica, it should be noted that no journalist has been the victim of work-related violence, and there is no overt harassment of journalists or pressures on the media that will condition the content they produce.
The media are required to work within the confines of defamation laws which impose damages on wrongdoing broadcasters, editors and journalists, but we have no problem with efforts to protect the hard-won reputation of Jamaican citizens.
It is good to be able to say that the importance of freedom of the press is generally recognized by the Jamaican authorities and that there are no systemic or institutional impediments to the functioning of the media or the practice of freedom of speech. ‘expression.
All international organizations that rank countries for press freedom place Jamaica among the most positive numbers and consistently in the top 10 for free media. — a pride for all Jamaicans.
Jamaican media can boast of having access to information legislation that allows for the review of requests for information. Of course, we are watching to see if the government will keep its promise to reduce the time between a request for information and the granting of access.
We remain adamant that data protection law — who can change the game in the field of security — must benefit from all possible guarantees of freedom of the press and not roll back any of the freedoms that the media have cherished for so long.
Let us never forget that a free press is the oxygen of democracy.