'Rescind order prohibiting movement of media workers in St Catherine'
The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) has called on the government to immediately rescind the order which prohibits members of the media from moving about during the period of lockdown in St Catherine.
“We would be the laughing stock of the democratic world if we were to allow this to stand without protest,” PAJ President George Davis said Thursday in a news release, which was supported by editors and executives at the island’s major media houses.
In Parliament on Wednesday, Prime Minister Andrew Holness announced the times during which members of the public can move about in the lockdown area. He said these persons include those "who are employed to the media such as journalists, television or radio presenters, camera operators, announcers, engineers, technicians, and newspaper delivery personnel between the hours of 8 am and 6 pm on Wednesdays, on Wednesday that is, today would be one of those days, the 15th day of April 2020, and between the hours of 7am and 9 pm on Saturday, (April) 18th.
"So the media is allowed to move freely on the re-stocking days, on the no-movement days no one is permitted to move. If there is a matter that requires their presence, they would have to get the permission of the ground commander," Holness said.
The PAJ said that while media workers will adhere to lawful instructions from the security forces, and will take all necessary steps to protect themselves given the contagious nature of COVID-19, it is vital in the public interest that they be allowed to continue reporting on the pandemic. The PAJ stressed that the occurrence of a pandemic does not diminish the need for the media to continue to act as watchdogs of the society.
“The very fact that the measures taken by the state to contain the spread of the corona virus have involved far-reaching curtailment of constitutional rights makes it even more important that the state does not fetter the media’s work at this time,” Davis said.