Published in the Trinidad Express: May 20, 2015, 9:52 pm AST
Trade and Communications Minister Vasant Bharath said yesterday that Government intends to meet again to discuss the implications of the Cybercrime Bill, amid the media's concern over certain clauses which they say are a threat to press freedom in its current state.
The Media Association of Trinidad And Tobago (MATT), headed by president Francesca Hawkins, and the Trinidad And Tobago Publishers and Broadcasters Association (TTPBA), led by Daren Lee Sing, met with Bharath, National Security Minister Carl Alfonso, Attorney General Garvin Nicholas and Food Production Minister Devant Maharaj. The meeting took place at Nicholas Towers, Port of Spain, with not only the local media concerned about the Bill but also the International Press Institute, the Geneva-based body which has urged "the T&T Government to take into account the concerns raised by media stakeholders over the proposed bill".
In a release last week, MATT stated that it viewed the bill as a "direct threat to press freedom" and called for its immediate withdrawal to facilitate more consultation with the stakeholders. Bharath, who described yesterday's meeting as "fruitful", said the bill's intent was never about stifling press freedom.
He said during Government's caucus meeting on Monday, they decided to listen to the views and concerns of the media.
"We could possibly incorporate these views in the legislation as it has never been nor will it ever be the intention to stifle media or freedom of expression.
"We had a full and frank meeting about the Bill and the Government's position is that we will not continue to the conclusion of the debate in the Lower House," he added. "We understand very clearly a lot rests on not just having democracy in Trinidad And Tobago but it be seen to be practised in Trinidad And Tobago and we hope that we would come to a resolution that all parties would be satisfied with."