We’ve gotten a lot of questions wondering if this newspaper
would respond to the recent barring of a local media representative from a
press conference at the Legislative Assembly building.
Here’s our response: It’s a stupid decision.
The obvious result of such a move is (as we have seen) the
media source in question will take the opportunity to slam the government for
unfairness and then report the same stuff that was said at the press conference
So, government gets a bunch of bad PR and the news
organisation in question loses, what, exactly? They may, in fact, gain from
this type of strong-arming by the government.
We at the Caymanian Compass have our own experiences in
being “barred” from the Legislative Assembly. According to Premier McKeeva
Bush’s recent statements in finance committee, at least one of our reporters
remains barred for reasons which we cannot explain. Mr. Bush appears to believe
it was for inaccurate reporting. The Speaker of the House alleged that it was
for “impugning the integrity” of the house.
Neither allegation was ever proven in reviews by appropriate
legal and civil rights authorities here. Yet, certain legislators go on
repeating these allegations in the long hope that someone, somewhere may
actually believe they are not trying to intimidate and belittle the free
The response to our barring from the House? Media, civil
rights groups and attorneys from five continents noted the following: “We believe
that both the revocation of privileges and the call for prosecution represent a
breach [the Compass reporter’s] right to freedom of expression, as protected
under both international law and section 11 of the Cayman Islands Constitution
We understand that Premier Bush’s solution to these PR
failures will be to use public funds to operate a government TV station where
government’s message can get through “unfiltered”. Perhaps the end result will
be to bar all privately owned media from Cayman entirely? That will convince
everyone of our open and transparent democratic processes, surely?