Freedom of the Press - Trinidad and Tobago (2004)

Status: Free
Legal Environment: 6
Political Influences: 10
Economic Pressures: 9
Total Score: 25

Population: n/a
GNI/capita: n/a
Life Expectancy: 71
Religious Groups: Roman Catholic (29.4 percent), Hindu (23.8 percent), Anglican (10.9 percent), Muslim (5.8 percent), Presbyterian (3.4 percent), other (26.7 percent)
Ethnic Groups: Black (40 percent), East Indian (40 percent), mixed (18 percent), other (2 percent)
Capital: Port-of-Spain

The press is free; Trinidad has a vibrant mix of public and privately owned media, although many of the latter are owned by large business interests. Prime Minister Patrick Manning signed the Inter American Press Association's Declaration of Chapultepec in September 2002, joining other Latin American and Caribbean countries in defending 10 principles of press freedom. In signing the document, the government demonstrated a shift in view from Manning's predecessor, former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, who refused to sign the agreement because of what he called the media's "dissemination of lies, half-truths, and innuendos." Rising crime, drug trafficking, and allegations of corruption within the police force are covered thoroughly in the press, resulting in some officials' criticizing the degree of "sensationalist" reporting. In 2003, the prime minister criticized the media's coverage of parliamentary proceedings as well as alleging that his own statements had been misreported; he threatened to initiate legal action against certain media outlets.

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