26.04.2007 -

Caribbean journalists to observe World Press Freedom Day 2007

Caribbean journalists and representatives of media organizations and training institutions will observe World Press Freedom Day 2007 at a conference in St. Lucia May 2-3 which will examine challenges faced by the regional media in defence of freedom of expression.

The Prime Minister of St. Lucia, Sir John Compton, will give the keynote address at the official opening of the conference Wednesday May at Coco Resorts, Rodney Bay, St. Lucia.


Under the theme "Media Democracy, Media Laws and Access to Information: Challenges for Caribbean Journalists and Media Organisations", the conference will provide a forum for informed discussion on the relationship between media and democracy and the challenges faced by media in enhancing democratic governance in the region.


Among the agenda items are: examination of recent developments in the region affecting press freedom including withholding of advertising by governments; legal restraints imposed by defamation and criminal libel laws; conflict between the profit motive and the public interest; sensationalism in reporting of crime and violence; impact of information and communication technology on traditional media and journalism; role of community media in promoting democratic participation.


Participants will also examine strategies to encourage investigative reporting within the constraints of defamation and other laws impacting journalistic practice and be trained in how journalists can better use access to information laws to report on activities of public officials and agencies of the state.


The St. Lucia conference will be the sixth year since the inaugural gathering in Jamaica in 1998 that the regional media have come together to discuss press freedom and professional issues as part of regional observance of World Press Freedom Day.


Explaining UNESCO support for the conference Director of the UNESCO Caribbean Cluster Office based in Kingston, Kwame Boafo says "Freedom of the Press and Freedom of Expression when combined, remain the single most driving force behind democracy and good governance. Under its Constitution, UNESCO is expressly required to promote the free flow of ideas by word and image and to collaborate in the work of advancing the mutual knowledge and understanding of all peoples, through all means of mass communication. UNESCO is happy to be partnering with these premier media organisations in advancing these ideals in the Caribbean".


The Conference is organized by the Caribbean Broadcasting Union together with UNESCO, Caribbean News Agency, Association of Caribbean Media Workers, CARIMAC, and the Research and Policy Group of the Mona School of Business, UWI.


This year, the global observance of World Press Freedom Day will be celebrated in Medellin, Colombia on 3 May at a conference on the theme "Press Freedom, Safety of Journalists and Impunity".

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