Saturday 11 July, 2020

T&T’s ranking unchanged in 2019 World Press Freedom Index

Trinidad and Tobago’s ranking remained unchanged at 39th place in the 2019 World Press Freedom Index, the same as the country’s 2018 score.

The report, published by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), mentioned several incidents, including the pending Cybercrime Bill, Whistleblower Protection Act and the Data Protection Act which threatens the ability for journalists to operate freely.

The report said media outlets ‘regarded as favourable to the government’ tend to get the largest shares of state advertising.

“Journalistic rights in question - Trinidad and Tobago’s controversial Libel and Defamation Act was partly amended in 2014, but “malicious defamatory libel known to be false” is still punishable by up to two years in prison as well as a fine.

“Most media outlets are privately-owned but those regarded as favorable to the government get the lion’s share of state advertising.”

“Several pieces of legislation – the Cybercrime Bill, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Data Protection Act, and the Broadcast Code – could have a chilling effect on press freedom and free expression online if adopted.”

“Police attempted to restrict journalists from reporting on a flood on public roads in 2018, highlighting concerns that authorities and public servants in Trinidad and Tobago do not respect the rights of journalists,” the report said.

The RSF also shared links to a 2018 incident in which Guardian reporter Kristian de Silva was attacked by a man when attempting to interview A&V Drilling CEO, Hanif Nazim Baksh.

However T&T’s ranking placed one spot above the United Kingdom, which ranked at 40th place, and the United States, which ranked 45th out of the 180 countries included in the Index.

Countries making the top 10 spots include Norway at 1st place, Sweden, the Netherlands, Finland, Switzerland, Jamaica, Belgium, New Zealand, Denmark, and Costa Rica.

10 countries ranking the lowest on the World Press Freedom Index include North Korea (last place), Eritrea, Turkmenistan, Syria, China, Vietnam, Sudan, Djibouti, Cuba and Equatorial Guinea.

In 2018 Trinidad and Tobago dropped five spots from 34 to 39.

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