JIS News

Twenty journalists representing all the Caribbean States participated in the first human rights seminar held for media practitioners of the region at the Jolly Beach Hotel Resort in Antigua and Barbuda.
The two-day seminar, which ended on Thursday (August 11) was held under the theme “Freedom of expression in the Inter-American system of human rights” and was organised by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in collaboration with the Office of Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, and the Organisation of American States (OAS).
The Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Trust for the Americas, mounted the training programme for journalists from the Caribbean to enable them to use and teach others to use, the Inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights. This system includes the rights to freedom of expression and freedom of the press, as well as other fundamental human rights.
The human rights watchdog upholds the view that “the right to freedom of thought and expression is vital for the promotion and development of a strong democratic system. Citizens who are well informed can stand up for all their rights and participate in decisions that affect their lives”.
According to the American Convention on Human Rights 1969, “everyone has the right to freedom of thought and expression. This right includes freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through any other medium of one’s choice”.
President of the IACHR, Clare Roberts, in his remarks at the opening ceremony, said that more involvement in the Caribbean Region was needed in order to establish an open dialogue between the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression and journalists in the region, and to encourage them to be active participants in the Inter-American system.
“The seminar will provide the participants with an overview of the inter-American system for the protection of human rights and the human rights standards for freedom of expression and press freedom … I am mindful of the efforts of certain governments in the Caribbean to enact Access to Information legislation,” he told the conference.”We at the Commission welcome such legislation in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and our host for this seminar, Antigua and Barbuda. The Commission commends the governments of Antigua and Barbuda, Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica and encourages other countries of the Caribbean to follow suit,” Mr. Roberts further noted.
He stressed that the Commission was committed to bringing the Caribbean closer to the Inter-American system and wished for all participants a successful seminar.
In his address, Minister of State in the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Information Broadcasting and Telecommunication, Senator Dr. Edmond Mansoor, said that the government of Antigua and Barbuda was cognizant that freedom of the press was the greatest guarantee of all the other freedoms, hence the government’s effort at ensuring that there was an end to monopoly on state media. “Ladies and gentlemen, the landmark Freedom of Information Act that the United Progressive Party (UPP) promised is indeed a reality. This Freedom of Information Act gives full effect to the provisions of the Antigua and Barbuda Constitution, conferring the right to receive and disseminate information, which is also guaranteed under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Minister noted.
He added that the government was committed to the continued training of journalists, referring to several media personnel from the state owned Antigua and Barbuda Broadcasting Station, ABS Radio and TV, being trained and “exposed to new ideas and initiatives in the country and also abroad”.
The two-day seminar explored topic areas such as: major sources of support for freedom of expression; arguments and attacks against freedom of expression; freedom of expression in the Caribbean; a diagnosis and introduction to the Inter-American system of human rights protection and the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.