The United National Congress joins the international community in commemorating World Press Freedom Day 2019, a day in which we pay tribute to the journalists whose work helps to safeguard the fundamental principles of our democracy.
The theme chosen for this year’s commemoration: Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times for Disinformation, is a timely one.
Over the past four years, T&T has witnessed the Keith Rowley led Government waging an unprecedented assault on free expression and facts. Whether it’s manipulating important economic data, presenting false evidence in Parliament, avoiding transparency in international Gas deals, or openly abusing journalists who present them with facts, the current Rowley government is displaying all the hallmarks of a dictatorial regime.
Of the many dangerous pieces of legislation that curtail our constitutional rights which the Rowley Government has attempted to make law, none is more dangerous to the journalism fraternity than the proposed Cybercrime bill. The organization Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has noted that legislation currently before Parliament could have a “chilling effect” on press freedom and free expression online, if adopted.
The underhanded intentions of this bill are to criminalize the very act of journalism itself. The UNC completely rejects this flagrant attempt to muzzle and intimidate the press.
Though Trinidad and Tobago can be proud of a long tradition of possessing a vibrant and free press we should remain vigilant, safeguarding our democracy from those who are attempting to stifle it.
We urge the media to remain steadfast in fulfilling their role in ensuring citizens get accurate information.
The UNC affirms its commitment to protecting the guarantee of press freedom; and we pledge to work with all stakeholders in holding this Government to account, in the interests of the people of Trinidad and Tobago.