Statement on Social Media attacks against Women TT Journalists

The Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM) condemns continued unlawful and defamatory social media attacks on women journalists in Trinidad and Tobago. We believe that a well-resourced, concerted attempt is being made to intimidate and to smear the characters of some journalists in the face of their investigative and analytical work.

In one instance, which recurred today, a video withdrawn by YouTube in 2013, on account of violations of its guidelines on privacy and the portrayal of minors, was circulated via social media channels in a clear attempt to defame investigative journalist, Asha Javeed, of the Trinidad Express. In several countries, slurs of a sexual nature against women journalists, in particular, are among a variety of well-documented strategies designed to produce a chilling effect on the practice of journalism.

We call on the Trinidad & Tobago media industry, government, law enforcement, civil society organisations, bar associations and citizens to take action to both discourage this disturbing trend and to ensure that offenders are duly punished. We have also been advised that in the run-up to elections due later this year, there has been an increase in social media attacks, some of them legally actionable, against targeted journalists. We encourage media professionals to exercise their legal options when deemed necessary.

The ACM has lent its support to the resuscitation of the Media Association of Trinidad & Tobago (MATT) in part because of the need to ensure there are rapid, national level responses to such strategies. Our international partners are being appropriately advised of the developing situation.