PAJ condemns attack on journalists, PNP apologizes
The Press Association of Jamaica, (PAJ) has condemned strongly, last evening’s attack on journalists at the People’s National Party headquarters in St. Andrew.
At the same time, the association is calling on the authorities to investigate the incident thoroughly and bring those responsible to justice.
The PAJ said two incidents occurred almost simultaneously.
In one, a journalist was threatened with rape, while another was verbally attacked.
The other incident saw a TV crew allegedly being threatened by a PNP supporter who it’s reported, picked up a stone and began approaching and threatening the reporter before eventually throwing away the stone.
PAJ president Milton Walker described the acts as unacceptable and a violation of the fundamental human rights of the journalists.
Mr. Walker also said the threat of rape is a new low, which has sent chills among female journalists in Jamaica.
The Press Association added that its also deeply disturbed by the actions of the party’s Deputy General Secretary, Dexroy Martin who criticized the reporters for wearing green clothing to the PNP headquarters.
Mr. Martin also allegedly objected to reporters questioning PNP vice-president Mikael Phillips and then ordered them to leave the compound.
The PAJ called for political parties and their supporters to respect the role of journalists and to refrain from any action that may threaten their safety or independence.
And the media association of Jamaica says the incident should not be taken lightly.
It stated that journalists must not be subjected to any threat or attack verbal or otherwise, while carrying out their duties.
The MAJ called on the leadership of the PNP to take immediate action to discipline those who are involved in this travesty.
The MAJ said embarrassingly for Jamaica, this comes days after World Press Freedom Day, and the fall of Jamaica in the global press freedom ranking for 2023.
Meantime, Information Minister Robert Morgan says the government supports the call for justice to be served arising from Monday evening’s incident.
Meantime, the People’s National Party says it remains committed to upholding the highest standards of professionalism and respect in its interactions with the media and the public.
The party adds that it will take all necessary steps to ensure that members understand the importance of this commitment and that such incidents do not recur.
The party is also disassociating itself from the behaviour of Deputy General Secretary Dexroy Martin, saying it was unacceptable and does not reflect the PNP‘s position in engagements with the media and guests on its property.
The PNP also issued a statement from Dexroy Martin, who apologized for his comments to the journalist. He said he understands that his comments about the colour of her clothing were unacceptable and disrespectful, and that he is deeply sorry for any offence caused.
He explains that media personnel entered a private meeting room at party headquarters towards the end of a meeting with some party supporters.
According to him, as a deputy general secretary, he informed the media personnel that only the general secretary was able to speak on the matter and asked them to withdraw from the private meeting space.
He said he commented on the colour of her clothing, which was unacceptable, for which unreservedly apologises and takes full responsibility for his behaviour.
And speaking in parliament, in response to a statement from the information minister, leader of opposition business Phillip Paulwell says the PNP will cooperate fully with the investigation into the matter.
While Member of Parliament Mikhail Phillips said, while he was at the party headquarters, he was unaware of what had happened.