International Press Institute (IPI) executive director Alison McKenzie is set to lead a six-party delegation to six Caribbean countries from April 15-May 6 as part of the institute's regional campaign for the repeal of criminal-defamation laws.
John Yearwood, Miami Herald's national and world editor and president of IPI's North American National Committee; Wesley Gibbings, president of the Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM); and Kiran Maharaj, president of the Trinidad and Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association, are among those scheduled to be a part of the delegation.The institute will visit T&T, Guyana, Suriname, Curacao, the Dominican Republic and Antigua and Barbuda.
In a press release issued yesterday, the institute said it would seek to win support from journalists, editors, civil-society organisations and governmental and non-governmental officials for the repeal of criminal defamation and insult laws, as well as discuss protection for journalists in Antigua and Barbuda, Guyana and Suriname.In the Dominican Republic, the institute plans to follow up on its visit last year and "congratulate government officials on removing prison penalties for defamation from the draft penal code."
It also plans to advise on specific legislation which regulates press activity in the country and "which maintains criminal punishments for defamation and insult."In T&T, "the delegation will encourage further progress on efforts to modernise the country's defamation law, as well as consolidate partnerships, including training initiatives, with both the Trinidadian government and national media houses that began with IPI's 2012 World Congress in Port-of-Spain," the release said.
The institute, during its visit, will also seek support for the Declaration of Port-of-Spain, which calls for the abolition of "insult laws" and criminal defamation legislation.Training workshops will be held in Guyana and the Dominican Republic on journalistic ethics as well as investigative journalism. On May 3, McKenzie, at the invitation of the Curacao National Commission for UNESCO, will deliver remarks on criminal defamation and journalists' safety in observance of World Press Freedom Day in Willemstad, Curacao.
In the release, McKenzie was quoted as saying: "IPI and ACM look forward to continuing their important advocacy work on the issue of criminal defamation in the Caribbean. While press freedom is already relatively strong in many Caribbean states, we believe that the repeal of criminal defamation is critical to ensuring that no journalist is pressured to self-censor, or faces the threat of prison for doing his or her job."