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Editor threatened by prime minister's advisor

(ACM/IFEX) - The Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) endorses the position of the Barbados Association Journalists (BAJ) on the threats against "Sunday Sun" Editor, Carol Martindale.

According to the "Sunday Sun", on 22 August 2009, "Carol Martindale received the threat 'to do the right thing' or have her reputation destroyed. The threat came from Hartley Henry, senior political advisor to Prime Minister David Thompson."

This is absolutely unacceptable behaviour on the part of a senior government operative.

Ms Martindale is a cherished member of the fraternity of Caribbean journalists and we stand with her and the "Nation" newspaper (of which the "Sunday Sun" is the Sunday edition) as they confront this attempt to interfere with the independent operation of a media enterprise.

We look forward to an acceptable response by the political directorate and have taken steps to alert our international partners to what we believe to be an open attack on press freedom.


The Barbados Association of Journalists is deeply concerned by the report that the Prime Minister's political advisor, Hartley Henry, made threats against one of our members, "Sunday Sun" editor, Carol Martindale.

The BAJ stands firmly behind Ms. Martindale, who is a journalist of considerable experience and the highest integrity and professionalism.

Further, the BAJ considers the reported actions of Mr. Henry to be wholly and utterly unacceptable, unnecessary and unworthy of any senior figure in the Government of Barbados, a government which is a guardian of the Constitution of Barbados and its long-held, hard-fought-for fundamental rights and freedoms.

Threats to members of the press will undoubtedly have the effect of undermining the democratic traditions for which this country is globally recognised.

While the press in a democratic society is not an official organ of a government, it, too, is a guardian of our constitutional rights and freedoms. As a former journalist himself, Mr. Henry should not be so far removed from understanding this.

This latest incident, taken together with occasional threats and intimidation by politicians, political operatives and their supporters, does nothing to enhance this country's hard-fought-for reputation as one which upholds press freedom.

While we are disappointed at this report, we are not entirely surprised. Ms. Martindale is not the first journalist to have been at the receiving end of threats or intimidation by politicians or political operatives.

Such incidents indicate that Barbados' virtually spotless reputation and high rankings in various global press freedom indices and international reports may not be entirely well-deserved.

The dormancy of the BAJ before our re-establishment in December 2008 may have contributed to this state of affairs as there was no formal mechanism in place to report such incidents.

However, with the BAJ now functioning once more, we will ensure that such challenges to Barbados' press freedom are met with a vigorous response.

This incident has been documented and the complaint disseminated to our regional umbrella organisation - the Association of Caribbean Media Workers, as well as to various international press monitoring organisations, including the Committee to Protect Journalists, Reporters Without Borders and the International Freedom of Expression Exchange.

The BAJ takes this opportunity to salute the Nation Publishing Company for its swift and supportive response to this issue and hopes that, in general, news organisations in Barbados will stand equally strongly with all journalists and photojournalists who uphold the highest ideals of our profession in the execution of their daily duty.

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