By Erasmus Williams
Basseterre, St. Kitts, April 25, 2018 – Less than a week after the United States Department of State concluded media outlets in St. Kitts and Nevis have instituted “self-censorship” to avoid problems with the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government, another international report Wednesday said the media in the OECS was “under tight surveillance.”
On April 20th, the U.S. Department of State in its annual Human Rights Practices Report for 2017 said non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and media reported that the media climate was sensitive with “media outlets reported self-censoring to avoid problems” with the Timothy Harris-led Team Unity Government.
Wednesday, Reporters Without Borders (RSF) in its 2018 World Press Freedom Index noted that journalism is not a prestige profession in the countries that are members of the Organization of East Caribbean States, pointing out that journalists get little training and often abandon media work because it is so badly paid.
“Many media outlets are under the direct influence of politicians, especially during elections, because officials can withdraw state advertising at any time, depriving them of income they depend on. In some of the Islands, political parties even own or have major shares in media companies, compromising journalistic independence. The authorities are also monitoring,” said the report which ranks the OECS at 35, up three places from 2017.
According to the 2018 World Press Freedom Index, journalists around the world face more hostility towards their work, a trend encouraged by an increasing number of politicians inhibiting journalism.
The annual report which reflects the state of journalism around the globe said journalists face more hatred than last year, not only in authoritarian countries but also increasingly in countries with democratically-elected leaders.