MATT says police raid on Express, “frontal attack on the Constitution”

MATT says police raid on Express, “frontal attack on the Constitution”

Yesterday’s raid of the Trinidad Express newsroom by police seeking to identify the source(s) of a Sunday Express investigative story “Senior cop in $2M cheque probe” (March 8, 2020) is an undisguised, frontal attack on the Constitution of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago that guarantees free speech and press freedom.

This is the view of the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) who stands in solidarity with the Express Newspapers.

In a press release issued on Thursday, MATT said the actions of the police against the Caribbean Communications Network (CCN) media house occurred while the TTPS was being led by Acting Commissioner of Police Irwin Hackshaw. They noted that Hackshaw is “the same senior official named in the Sunday Express investigative story. We note that contents of the story have hitherto not been disputed.”

In immediate response to this shocking act of intimidation against journalists and whistleblowers, MATT noted that both the substantive Police Commissioner and Minister of National Security have denied responsibility.

The association is urging those two high office holders to investigate and report fulsomely and swiftly to the public on yesterday’s police action.

They added that this is the most recent attack on the press by officers of the TTPS and MATT unequivocally resists these attempts to frustrate the flow of information to the public.

The public has a right to know when and how office holders are working against the public’s interest.

The Media Association calls for adequate legal protection of whistleblowers and for public interest exemption clauses in several items of legislation, including the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) Act and the Interception of Communications Act.

Evidently, soft clauses in legislation are being cynically activated as cover to launch egregious attacks on the public’s right to know.

MATT stands in solidarity with our colleagues at the Trinidad Express Newspapers as we monitor developments.