The Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) has welcomed a ruling by the Supreme Court in Trinidad and Tobago, which has struck down the use of search warrants obtained by the police and used to gain access to a journalist’s home and office from which tools of the journalist’s trade were seized.
In a ruling which declared that the warrants obtained were “plainly irregular”, unlawful and unconstitutional, the court also awarded damages to the journalist and her employer, the Trinidad Express Newspaper, a member of the One Caribbean Media (OCM) Group.
“The ruling supporting a journalist’s right to protect his/her sources is heartening,” declared a statement from CBU President Gary Allen, who added that “it is also of tremendous value that the court has gone further and advocated legislative reform on obtaining search warrants for a media house because of the pivotal role media play in seeking to balance the investigation, gathering and reporting of information in the public’s interest”.
The matter related to an investigative report in the Express newspaper relating to a senior police officer and allegations of wrongdoing, which the CBU says is a typical type of reportage undertaken by broadcast and newspaper journalists across the region from time to time.
“This is not therefore just a victory for independent journalism and media in Trinidad and Tobago, it is a victory for independent journalism across the Caribbean and the Commonwealth,” Allen added.
The CBU commends the clarity of the understanding and ruling of Justice Frank Seepersad in this matter and highlights a section of the ruling, which states that “the protection of journalistic sources is one of the cornerstones of freedom of the press. Without such protection, sources may be deterred from assisting the press in informing the public on matters of public interest”.
The CBU urges all media in the region to pay attention to the ruling, noting that it bolsters responsible journalism. It commends OCM, a member of the CBU, for being resolute in seeking and securing justice for its journalist and the profession in this matter.