Sat | Oct 24, 2020

PAJ wants court photo ban lifted

Published:Saturday | September 21, 2019 | 12:11 AM

The Press Association of Jamaica has joined the call for the repeal of Section 33 of the Criminal Justice (Administration) Act, which makes it a criminal offence to take photographs or sketches of accused persons.

The section in questions states: “No person shall take or attempt to take in any Court any photograph, or with a view to publication, make, or attempt to make, in any Court any portrait or sketch of any prisoner; or publish any photograph, portrait, or sketch taken or made in contravention of the foregoing provisions of this section or any reproduction thereof.”

The recent passage of the Law Reform (Amendment of Penalties) Act increased the fine associated with the offence from $20 to $1 million and the possible imprisonment in default of payment from one month to a year.

In a release, PAJ President George Davis, while acknowledging that the law has been on the books for years, contends that the repeal of the law is in the interest of freedom of the press.

“Concerns that exist can be dealt with on a case-by-case basis, given the power of the court to make orders. Repealing the outdated provision can only enhance Jamaica’s sterling reputation as a bastion of press freedom. We recognise that children are an especially vulnerable group and note the prohibition under Section 45 of the Child Care and Protection Act on publishing any identifying details of children involved in any Children’s Court proceedings, including a ban on publishing their photographs,” he said.

The Media Association of Jamaica has also called for the repeal of the same section of the law.