The Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) has expressed concern about a recent statement by Saint Lucia’s Minister with responsibility for Tourism, Information and Broadcasting, Dominic Fedee on plans by his administration to impose additional regulations on the country’s private media.
The minister’s comments were made in parliament on March 21 where he described the current media landscape as being “in a state of chaos” and requiring “additional legislation.”
Minister Fedee’s specific concerns appeared to emerge from the actions of broadcasters whom he accused of producing misleading, “indecent” and “profane” content. Such a situation, he proposed, required “a set of rules that the media would be governed by.”
The ACM says it wishes to inform the minister that most of his concerns are already addressed under both civil and criminal law in his country and that to impose an additional tier of criminal liability targeting the media sector would constitute a grave violation of accepted standards to protect freedom of expression and freedom of the press. He is reminded that such a provision is an entrenched feature of the Constitution of Saint Lucia.
An ACM delegation had discussed the matter of media self-regulation with the minister on January 26, 2017 – an approach to perceived media malpractice we believed enjoyed his support at that time. His comments in parliament in fact belie sentiments expressed by him during those discussions.
The ACM says it has advised its national affiliate – the Media Association of Saint Lucia – to monitor this situation closely, adding that assistance with analysing proposed broadcasting legislation will also be forthcoming from the ACM, with assistance from specialist international agencies concerned with the free expression compliance of media laws.