Freedom Trial Balloons
"National Broadcasting Network (NBN) deputy Head of News Verne Burnett says he would rather be forced out of State-owned TTT than put up with attempts to censor the news.This came after instructions were passed on to him yesterday that the company’s chief operating officer Dominic Beaubrun will now be vetting news stories before they are broadcast.“The aim of this,” Burnett said, “is to prevent undue prominence being given to non-Government political elements such as Basdeo Panday, Ramesh Maharaj etc.” In other words, the blacklisting of those who disagree with the government.
A defiant Burnett said he has informed his higher-ups he will resist such instructions."
In my view, Trinidad and Tobago it seems is now being run by a dictatorship. Censorship creates an eternal crisis, so said Ralph E. McCoy, Emeritus Dean of Library Affairs ,University of Virginia. The Trinidad and Tobago we know and love, today is at risk. And, hardly anyone is paying attention. The threat is not from terrorists or foreign governments, though we certainly have felt and continue to feel, their impact. No, the risk is not coming from outside the country, but from within. And internal threats, the political scientists warn, often are the most dangerous.
Because the erosion of rights tends to occur gradually, it's easier seen at a distance. A cabal of Roman Senators, for instance, assassinated Julius Caesar because they feared his growing power. When his successor, Augustus, finally consolidated imperial might, the Senate didn't disband but rather devolved into a ceremonial vestige of the erstwhile Republic. The civil rights of Romans slowly atrophied from inalienable guarantees under the law to mere traditions enjoyed at the pleasure of the emperor.
When your liberty is insured solely by the goodwill and competence of those in charge, you live in a police state. Why haven't the voter padding cases been tried in the courts yet?
It is my belief that the threat we face is the accelerating concentration of control of our media and of our information distribution channels, by the government. TnT's press has never been perfect. Far from it.
The more enlightened of our population understands that an independent, free and unfettered press is critical to engaging the populace in its democracy, and that such engagement was essential for representative government to work. Is it too much to ask that we preserve conditions in which journalists are free to report on events in this country without pressure or interference from political authorities or security forces ?
The Universal Declaration on Human Rights promises everyone the “right to freedom of opinion and expression…through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
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