The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) is calling on the police service to address the assault of journalists by security guards employed by Amalgamated Security Services Limited (ASSL) at the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH) on Wednesday.
The Association said, “These assaults on journalists by Amalgamated Security Ltd officers stationed at the San Fernando General Hospital are not new. MATT, individual journalists and media houses have over the years repeatedly urged officials at the hospital to address the abusive behaviour of their security staff.”
The Association said that the evident failure to do so has resulted not only in injury to TV6 South Bureau journalist Cindy Raghubar-Teekersingh, damage to media equipment and another encroachment on press freedom in these dire times, but has occasioned unnecessary public health risks to both journalists and security personnel.
In footage captured by the media, two security officers are seen shouting into the faces of journalists and physically manhandling them, despite the entreaties of the journalists who were backing away in order to “stay away.”
MATT said, Although journalists have a right to be in carpark, Ms Raghubar-Teekersingh took the additional precaution of securing permission to be there from the hospital’s Corporate Communications Department in the person of Mr Kevon Gervais.”
The Association added that in such circumstances, all security personnel must respect the right of journalists to bring news to an anxious population. “This is a new time that will not be successfully navigated with old behaviours,” the Association said.
They are calling the South West Regional Health Authority and the TTPS—to whom a formal report was made by Ms Raghubar-Teekersingh—to address this matter swiftly and forcefully so as to signal to the population zero tolerance for breaches of official isolation protocols and assaults on the flow of information to the public.
Matt said, “We stand in solidarity with the affected journalists and acknowledge their fearless work.”