PNP SAYS HOLNESS ACTION THREATENS FREE SPEECH
KINGSTON, Jamaica, December 5, 2017: The People’s National Party (PNP) views with grave concern efforts by the Office of the Prime Minister (OPM) to censor free expression, which is the Constitutional right of every Jamaican.
The PNP notes that content on several social media accounts have been removed at the request of the OPM and in instances, the pages of the individuals have been completely shut down by the networks. The OPM, which has a responsibility to protect the rights of all Jamaicans, has accused the owners of copyright infringements relating to a public town hall meeting involving Prime Minister Andrew Holness, where it has been alleged that the footage from the town hall was “spliced”.
The claim relates to a video exchange, made in the public space, with members of the public, about an issue of significant public interest, but which was considered unflattering to the Prime Minister in the manner he responded to the questions from the attendee.
The controversial content, targeted by the OPM, is the video of the recent town hall, which shows PM Holness appearing to be visibly angry and in the opinion of many persons, verbally abusive to a young man who asked about the National Identification Registration System (NIDS) Bill and suggested that it be placed before a Joint Select Committee of Parliament.
The PNP says further that accusations from the OPM that the video was “spliced” are disingenuous as the apparently angry tone and disrespectful words of the Prime Minister were not edited and cannot be misunderstood.
The Party says, any effort to curtail the freedom of expression of citizens guaranteed by the Constitution is not only a step in the wrong direction, but sadly is no different from what obtains in a dictatorship, and this approach to governance will be resisted.
The Party is calling on PM Holness to ensure that he and his Administration uphold the laws of the land and allow the people of Jamaica their freedom of expression and speech, a right entrenched in the nation’s Constitution. We warn Mr. Holness to pull back from this posture of ‘imperial lordship’ before it is too late.
The PNP condemns any effort to infringe on the right of free expression and any act that amounts to the verbal abuse of the people. Every citizen of Jamaica has the right to free speech and to question the government’s action.