St Kitts and Nevis (WINN): For almost sixty years, successive political administrations have treated the state-controlled media like a combo of the ruling party mouthpiece, mixed with official government coverage sans opposition or a sprinkling of the same.
The door is now shut on that, it would seem, after the government and the opposition agreed to equal access to the state-controlled ZIZ Broadcasting and equal treatment under current COVID-19 state of emergency rules in the run-up to the June 5 general election.
That agreement was reached after the St. Kitts Nevis Labour Party filed an injunction in the High Court on May 22 to May 27.
Attorneys for the government and the opposition agreed to pause the injunction and implement the equal access provisions.
The government lawyers presented letters written by Attorney General Vincent Byron to the Chairman of ZIZ Broadcasting and the Police Commissioner prior to the agreement.
In the letter to the Commissioner of Police, dated May 28, the AG stated in part:
” …Among the specific allegations which are made are that police officers have been impeding Labour Party motorcades and activities which have received the permission of the Commissioner, even though no law is being violated, while in similar circumstances’ motorcades and activities of political parties affiliated with Team Unity are carried out unimpeded.”
“… without commenting upon or accepting the truth or otherwise of the allegations which have been made, it is incumbent upon me as the legal advisor to the Government … to indicate that it is the duty of the members of the police service to enforce the law evenhandedly … ”
This means in particular that you must both ensure that all political parties abide by the Emergency Regulations and that in this regard you permit none of the political contestants to violate the law.”
A similar letter was sent to the Chairman of ZIZ Broadcasting regarding access by the opposition.
As campaigning accelerates to the finish line the question of the nightly curfew is on the table. Will the nightly curfews remain in effect on the eve of Polling Day June 4, Polling Day June 5, and the day after?
That answer is coming soon.