Mon | Sep 21, 2020

‘Archaic and retrograde’…MAJ against law prohibiting taking photographs of defendants

Published:Tuesday | September 17, 2019 | 12:40 PM

Media Association of Jamaica (MAJ) says it is concerned that parliament is retaining an aspect of the Criminal Justice and Administration Act which prohibits the taking of photographs of defendants entering and leaving court or from producing a sketch of the accused.

The Act is undergoing a review.

The MAJ says the clause goes against modern media practice in other jurisdictions where still and video recording is allowed prior, during and after court.

The association says the move is a retrograde step which flies in the face of media freedoms and offers yet another tool which can be used to suppress the work of journalists who can be fined $1 million and/or be criminally prosecuted.

It notes that the law affects not just journalists but any person with a camera.

The MAJ says it hopes that this is an overlooked by-product of a parliament seeking generally to raise fines associated with the act and argue that this process presents an opportunity to engage in the necessary and rigorous debate to abolish sections of law with no application in the modern world.

It is calling for Jamaicans to remain vigilant and hold the government responsible and accountable for ensuring that the laws are relevant in today's environment.

Further, the association is calling for the government and opposition to work to abolish this archaic provision of the law which it says stands to hurt Jamaicans and by extension further threaten Jamaica's ranking for press freedom.

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