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Freedom of the Press 2008 - Trinidad and Tobago

Publisher Freedom House
Publication Date 29 April 2008
Cite as Freedom House, Freedom of the Press 2008 - Trinidad and Tobago, 29 April 2008, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4871f639c.html [accessed 13 July 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Status: Free
Legal Environment: 6 (of 30)
Political Environment: 10 (of 40)
Economic Environment: 7 (of 30)
Total Score: 23 (of 100)
(Lower scores = freer)

Freedom of the press is enshrined in the constitution. Freedom of information legislation is in place, but the government has been criticized for gradually narrowing the categories of public information accessible under the law. A major issue is the authorities' interventions in the context of simmering ethnic tensions between the African and East Indian communities. In January, the ruling People's National Movement (PNM), which is generally supported by Afro-Trinidadians, was heavily criticized for the action taken against television operator and commentator Inshan Ishmael. The owner of the Islamic Broadcasting Network, Ishmael emerged as a leader of a protest movement that in January announced a shut-down of businesses and schools as a way of registering public dissatisfaction with the government's failure to deal with soaring crime rate. In the build-up to the protest, the state-run Trinidad and Tobago Telecommunications Authority (TATT) blocked the broadcast of Ishmael's television program. Then, on January 24, the day before the work-stoppage, Ishmael was arrested by armed police. He was later charged under the Anti-Terrorism Act. The leader of the recently-formed Congress of the People party, Wilson Dookeran, denounced the arrest as a "deliberate move to stifle freedom of the media." In March, the charges against Ishmael were dropped.

There are 3 daily newspapers – Trinidad and Tobago Express, Newsday, and The Trinidad Guardian – and 3 political weeklies. There are 4 television stations, including the state-owned CNMG TV, and in May a new cable station, WIN TV, was launched. In November, the BBC Caribbean Service joined an already crowded radio field – there are 36 stations – when it launched its FM frequency service. There are no government restrictions on the internet for the 12 percent of the population that was able to gain access in 2007.

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