THE Media Association (MATT) says this country’s five-place drop in the World Press Freedom Index is a reminder of how essential press freedom is, and again called for more consultations on the Cyber Crime Bill.
In a release, MATT noted Reporters Without Borders or Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF), an international non-profit organisation which promotes and defends freedom of information and freedom of the press, issued its 2018 World Press Freedom Index on April 25.
MATT said the annual report noted the increased hostility faced by journalists and media workers around the world in doing their jobs, a trend encouraged by an increasing number of politicians and governments actively working to inhibit the public’s right to know.
MATT pointed out this year’s report saw TT drop to 39th out of 180 countries, with RSF noting the “negative effect on the freedom of the press and freedom of expression on the internet” that proposed legislation such as the Cyber Crime Bill, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Data Protection Act and the new broadcast code could have if adopted in their current form.
The report also noted the physical attacks on several reporters while investigating a story involving the owner of a private oil company in 2017.
“While the Media Association is heartened that TT achieved a press freedom rating in the current report which is higher than several countries with more developed or technical advanced media industry, the drop in the country’s numerical rating and overall score serve as a reminder that freedom of the press and freedom of expression are essential but delicate rights in any functional democracy,” it said.
“It is with this understanding, current and past executives of the Media Association have called for further consultation on the Cyber Crime Bill and all new legislation or amendments which have the potential to criminalise professional journalists working in the public interest.”