Friday 21 February, 2020

Take responsibility for media attacks, MATT says

The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) has called on all journalists and media companies to reject an invitation from A&V Oil and Gas Ltd CEO Hanif Baksh to tour the company's premises.

Baksh extended the invitation on Monday after apologising for attacks on journalists covering the Petrotrin "fake oil" fiasco last week.

Though he apologised, Baksh still maintained that the media workers had entered his property without permission.

He was expected to host a 90 minute tour of the facility on Thursday.

However, in a statement, MATT noted the attacks and said any attempt to obstruct working journalists from carrying out their duties is a violation of the law.

"We call on all journalists and their assignment editors to reject this invitation as their safety cannot be guaranteed," it stated.

The Association said the journalists involved would have suffered not only physical, but emotional trauma.

"A&V Oil and Gas Limited issued a statement asserting its strict legal rights regarding its property. It follows up this statement with something that resembles an apology," MATT stated.

"We recall an article in the Sunday Express which quotes Mr. Hanif Nazim Baksh, owner of A&V Oil and Gas Limited, as saying, “What the hell he doing there? He lucky I didn’t bounce him down." Therefore, MATT rejects this cynical attempt to deflect attention away from the violence that occurred."

The Association added that the apology from Baksh does not mean the police should abandon its investigation and all individuals involved reserve the right to pursue legal action or seek legal advice.

"MATT has sought its own legal advice on the subject and has been advised that while A&V Oil and Gas has the right to defend its property it is completely disproportionate in attacking media personnel who all claim they were not trespassing – something A&V Oil and Gas has been unable to otherwise prove."

MATT called on Baksh to provide proof that the media workers were on his compound and to take full responsibility for any involvement in these brutal attacks.

The Association also demanded A&V replace all damaged equipment and pay for medical bills incurred.

Further, MATT said A&V should subject itself to a media conference at a neutral location where members of the media can ask questions on behalf of the public.

A number of media houses have already stated that they would not be accepting Baksh's invitation.

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