Sat | May 30, 2015

JLP concerned about media restriction

Published:Monday | April 22, 2013
Arthur Williams

Opposition Spokesman on Information Senator Arthur Williams is raising concern at what he claims are blatant attacks on media freedom in Jamaica by the current political administration.

Williams noted recent restrictions placed on journalists at Parliament who were prevented from interviewing Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller by her security team, and past incidents in which journalists were allegedly roughed up by operatives of the administration.

"There seems to be a trend developing where journalists are not allowed to do their job of seeking information from public officials," he said. "This cannot continue and the prime minister herself must seek to reverse this trend and allow access to the media so they can ask the pertinent questions and inform the public."

Williams argued that a "free and unencumbered media" is important to the development and maturing of Jamaica's democracy and if the media is being unreasonably restricted, then it will have a negative impact on the availability of information to enable the citizenry to make informed decisions.

Williams said he was also concerned by news from several media houses that some members of the Government have been unwilling to give interviews and appear on programmes that are dealing with issues of national concern.

"We have had complaints from several media houses that they can never get to interview the prime minister and some of her ministers," he said. "We find this puzzling as we believe that if the Government wishes to keep the public informed, then it would embrace opportunities to answer questions about government policies and programmes."

Williams said he hoped the prime minister would examine how her Government engages the media and instruct her handlers to take advantage of the opportunities available for her to come to the nation and answer questions about her policies and the direction in which her Government is taking the country.