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Police raid "Newsday" office in Trinidad

(ACM/IFEX) - The Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM) joins with its affiliate, the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago in strongly condemning the police raid on the offices of "Newsday" newspaper and the home of journalist Andre Bagoo.

According to ACM's information, on February 9, 2012, a team of police officers raided the offices of the newspaper and Bagoo's home in search of what they described as unlawfully-acquired information which led to a December 20, 2011 newspaper report on high-level conflict within the country's Integrity Commission.

The police had in December sought disclosure of the source of the information reported in the newspaper following a complaint from Integrity Commission Chairman Ken Gordon. The newspaper refused to cooperate.

The actions of the police reek of intimidation and can be interpreted as an attempt to put a damper on media efforts to get to the bottom of a matter of great public interest and concern.

We are not comforted by government claims of ignorance in the face of this threat to press freedom in Trinidad and Tobago and call on the Kamla Persad-Bissessar administration to clearly state its specific position on the actions of this arm of the national security infrastructure.

The action against "Newsday" closely mirrors the December 29 raid on Caribbean Communications Network (CCN) which has been roundly condemned by local, regional and international press freedom organisations.

The right of journalists to protect sources of information is a necessity to ensure an unfettered ability to publicise acts of criminal and other wrong-doings and to bring matters of public issues to light.

It is a specific protection provided under international law, including the Inter-American Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression to which Trinidad and Tobago subscribes.

Principle 8 of the Declaration states: “Every social communicator has the right to keep his/her source of information, notes, personal and professional archives confidential.” This principle is reinforced through the Inter-American Press Association's Declaration of Chapultepec, also endorsed by Trinidad and Tobago.

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