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Government, Stakeholders address role of media and improving access to information in latest round of talks

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By Devonne Cornelius

St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): The Media Association of St. Kitts and Nevis has set out a number of goals it intends to accomplish with the aim of creating an improved working environment for media workers in the Federation. 

A guest on WINN FM’s ‘Voices’ talk show on Wednesday, September 21, Mr. Andre Huie, President of the Media Association of St. Kitts and Nevis, disclosed that talks have begun with owners and managers of media houses to ascertain some of the challenges they face in the industry. 

Mr. Huie said, “we didn’t get to all but most and we got feedback as to what the managers and owners of media houses would expect from a media association. The key thing is that all of them who we met saw the need for an association and gave support for us to have an association. But they gave an insight into some of the issues that they are facing as media managers and some of the things that we are going to be paying attention to as the media association.”

He continued: “We also sought to look at some of the things that have been pending for quite some time. One is the Freedom of Information Act which is key. It’s not a legislation for just journalists and media workers, it’s actually a legislation for everyone in St. Kitts and Nevis but it is critically important to the work of media workers to have legislation like that. I look at my colleagues in Jamaica and Trinidad and other places that have a functioning Freedom of Information Act…and they do good work and a lot of the work that they do is as a result of having a functioning Freedom of Information Act.”

Mr. Huie said the Media Association will continue to engage the present administration as it did with the previous to ensure that the Freedom of Information Act is operationalised and placed into law. 

Also appearing on the September 21 edition of WINN FM’s ‘Voices’ talk show was Mr. Glen Bart, First Vice President of the Media Association. Mr. Bart is directly responsible for ensuring the operationalisation of the Freedom of Information Act by engaging the government through its Ministry of Justice and Legal Affairs. 

“It is important that we have a legal avenue by which to obtain critical information that would assist in providing the kind of information and detail accuracy, soundness of the information to our readers, viewers and listeners. We had a meeting earlier this year with the former Attorney General Vincent Byron Jr. on this particular matter because we realized that the bill [Freedom of Information Act] was passed but it was not activated. 

We were able to find out that there has been some ground work being done by the legal department and they seem to be trying to establish protocol by which various departments in government will be able to assemble and disseminate information when requested. It seems that they are not quite ready as yet but we want to have some follow up meetings with the Attorney General’s office and we shall be pursuing that in the short run.”

The Freedom of Information Act makes provision for the disclosure of information held by public bodies or by persons providing services for them and for connected purposes. The Act covers freedom of information, records, time limits for responding to requests, information officers and legal privilege among other things. 

To read the Freedom of Information Act, visit https://www.lawcommission.gov.kn/

 

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