Friday 18 October, 2019

PAJ lauds Jamaica's improved showing on Press Freedom Index

PAJ President, Dionne Jackson Miller

PAJ President, Dionne Jackson Miller

The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) has expressed its satisfaction at what it said is “Jamaica’s continued good showing” on the annual World Press Freedom Index.

The index, which is compiled by the France-based press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RSF), was released on Tuesday night. It showed that Jamaica moved up two places from eighth last year, to sixth this year out of 180 countries.

In its assessment, Reporters Without Borders stated that: “Jamaica ranks among the countries that most respect freedom of information.”

“While we are happy about Jamaica’s improved ranking, we cannot relax. We must be vigilant as the erosion of press freedom can be insidious,” said PAJ President Dionne Jackson Miller in a statement.

Jackson Miller said the PAJ continued to be concerned about the potential impact of the Data Protection bill on journalism in Jamaica. The bill is now being examined by a Joint Select Committee of Parliament.

She reminded that the PAJ has been calling for the practice of journalism to be completely exempted from the provisions of the bill.

“Even as we celebrate our improved ranking, we acknowledge the threats our colleagues face elsewhere, including physical attacks, and verbal abuse from political leaders,” says Jackson Miller.

 “We stand in solidarity with our colleagues around the world, many of whom work in oppressive and dangerous conditions, like the Philippines where the President has warned reporters that they are not exempted from assassination,” Jackson Miller noted.

In its overall assessment of the state of press freedom as outlined in the 2018 index, Reporters Without Borders stated that there is “growing animosity towards journalists. Hostility towards the media, openly encouraged by political leaders, and the efforts of authoritarian regimes to export their vision of journalism pose a threat to democracies.”

The report stated that “The United States, the country of the First Amendment, has fallen again in the Index under Donald Trump, this time two places to 45th. A media-bashing enthusiast, Trump has referred to reporters as: enemies of the people.” 

Mexico, which was ranked at 147th, saw eleven journalists being killed there last year, with RSF calling the country “the world’s second deadliest country for journalists in 2017.”

Reporters Without Borders has described Turkey as the “world’s biggest prison for professional journalists.”

The PAJ said it will continue to add its voice to calls from advocates around the world for the protection of journalists.

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