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  • Attorney General, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, says that freedom of the press must be protected and promoted in order to ensure the proper functioning of the country’s democracy.
  • Mrs. Malahoo Forte, who was addressing the opening of a World Press Freedom Day exhibition at the University of Technology’s (UTech) Western Campus in Montego Bay on May 3, said that the media “is a powerful tool, playing a key role in educating citizens about their democratic rights and encouraging them to exercise those rights”.
  • The media, she noted further, provides a platform for political candidates to share their messages with the electorate, monitors and provides feedback on the electoral process, and reports on election results.

Attorney General, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, says that freedom of the press must be protected and promoted in order to ensure the proper functioning of the country’s democracy.

Mrs. Malahoo Forte, who was addressing the opening of a World Press Freedom Day exhibition at the University of Technology’s (UTech) Western Campus in Montego Bay on May 3, said that the media “is a powerful tool, playing a key role in educating citizens about their democratic rights and encouraging them to exercise those rights”.

The media, she noted further, provides a platform for political candidates to share their messages with the electorate, monitors and provides feedback on the electoral process, and reports on election results.

Attorney General, Hon. Marlene Malahoo Forte, responds to questions from students at the opening of a World Press Freedom Day exhibition on May 3 at the University of Technology’s (UTech) Western Campus in Montego Bay. Seated at the head table are Coordinator and Lecturer, Caribbean Institute of Media and Communication (CARIMAC), University of the West Indies (UWI) Western Jamaica Campus, Steffon Campbell (left); and Executive Producer of LivewireACT, Brian Brown.

 

The Attorney General said Jamaica has a robust legislative framework in place to support press freedom through the constitutional right of freedom of expression and the right to seek, receive, distribute or disseminate information, opinions, and ideas through any media.

“As a country, we have enacted access to information legislation and we also took the progressive step of decriminalising defamation. This framework empowers media practitioners to seek and share information and enables them to carry out their work without fear. This is something to celebrate,” she pointed out.

Mrs. Malahoo Forte noted, however, that with press freedom comes great responsibility, highlighting that there has been an increase in non-factual information on various media platforms.

“Sadly, the various forms of media have led to an upsurge in fake news…where half-truths or whole lies are intentionally used to misinform and manipulate members of the public. Messages that distort the truth could have disastrous effects on the integrity of the electoral process and deprive citizens of their right to free and fair elections,” she pointed out.

The Attorney General said that preservation of press freedom does not depend solely on the laws in place, but also on the professional standards and ethics that media professionals must strive to maintain.

The World Press Freedom Day event was held under the theme ‘Media Education and Democracy’.

Presentations were given by western Jamaica-based communications professionals on topics such as media and elections, media education and democracy as well as journalism in times of disinformation.

Attendees also viewed the work of UTech’s Faculty of Education and Liberal Studies (FELS) final-year students.