Harris reaffirms commitment to free press, free expression

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On the occasion of World Press Freedom Day 2019 (May 3rd), Prime Minister Timothy Harris reaffirms his strong support and respect for the free press, which he believes is “an enduring and unshakeable institution that is essential to maintaining a strong democracy here in St. Kitts and Nevis and, indeed, everywhere.”

Prime Minister Harris said on May 3, “One only has to look at the level and frequency of engagement and dialogue that officials of my Administration and I have with the press corps and the public to appreciate our unfailing commitment to freedom of expression – a fundamental right enshrined in our Constitution and in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.”

World Press Freedom Day 2019 is shining a spotlight on the role of media in elections and democracy with the theme Media for Democracy: Journalism and Elections in Times of Disinformation. 

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) defines disinformation as “Deliberate (often orchestrated) attempts to confuse or manipulate people through delivering dishonest information to them.  This is often combined with parallel and intersecting communications strategies and a suite of other tactics like hacking or compromising of persons.”

The UN agency adds that, “Misinformation is generally used to refer to misleading information created or disseminated without manipulative or malicious intent.  Both are problems for society, but disinformation is particularly dangerous because it is frequently organised, well resourced, and reinforced by automated technology.”

UNESCO says this year’s World Press Freedom Day is the occasion to reflect on current issues, such as “How can journalism rise above emotional content and fake news during an election?”

“In the wake of investigations surrounding the now-shuttered political consulting firm Cambridge Analytica and its parent company SCL Elections Ltd, and revelations about their involvement in the Caribbean, journalists and their audience ought to be wary about being sent down a rabbit hole of disinformation, particularly during election campaigns,” Prime Minister Harris said.

“Here in St. Kitts and Nevis, my Administration and I take our responsibility to inform the public very seriously.  The Government frequently shares important information with the press and public, providing an open environment in which they can present and debate effectively the issues and concerns that matter most to voters – and to the future of this great country – and also assess the performance of their elected representatives,” Prime Minister Harris added as he wished media practitioners a happy World Press Freedom Day 2019.

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