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  • Minister of Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, has expressed pride in Jamaica’s accomplishments in press freedom and access to information.
  • Minister Falconer pointed out that the 2014 Reporters without Borders World Press Freedom Index places Jamaica ahead of the United States.
  • The Minister outlined, the Vienna-based International Press Institute has also recognised Jamaica as the first independent Caribbean nation to clear its books of criminal libel.

Minister of Information, Senator the Hon. Sandrea Falconer, has expressed pride in Jamaica’s accomplishments in press freedom and access to information, particularly its ranking above some First World countries.

Addressing a UNESCO seminar on Friday, May 2, in Kingston, to mark World Press Freedom Day, Minister Falconer pointed out that the 2014 Reporters without Borders World Press Freedom Index places Jamaica ahead of the United States and maintains its ranking of being first in the entire Western Hemisphere in terms of Press freedom.

“The report placed Jamaica at number 17, ahead of the United States, Canada, Britain and just below Switzerland and Ireland,” she stated.

Senator Falconer also noted that just a few days ago, US-based Social Progress Imperative in its latest Social Progress Index, revealed that Jamaica is ahead of that country, in terms of access to information and communication ranking.

The document pointed out that the island scored 82.07, and the United States 81.33 per cent.

Additionally, the Minister outlined, the Vienna-based International Press Institute has also recognised Jamaica as the first independent Caribbean nation to clear its books of criminal libel.

She noted that the Institute’s Director, Alison Bethel, has urged regional countries to “follow Jamaica’s courageous example.”

“Jamaica has progressive legislation which enhances Press freedom and which empowers journalists to carry out their work without fear,” the Information Minister asserted, adding that “our defamation law which abolishes criminal libel and which sends a clear signal of our high regard for freedom of speech, has been welcomed by both media owners and journalists.”

Meanwhile, Senator Falconer said the theme for the seminar: ‘Reaching New Goals: Free Media Fortifies the post-2015 Development Agenda’, is an important one.

“As you well know, among the indispensable elements of democracy and citizen participation are freedom of expression; universal access to knowledge; and a free, pluralistic and independent media,” she said.

The Minister argued that the promotion of these three issues is critical to any post-2015 Development Agenda discussion.

Senator Falconer’s presentation was based on the topic: ‘Press Freedom and Development in the Caribbean’.