Thursday, July 31, 2008


The Newsday has an interesting story on a new law that has been passed which bans harassment in all forms, including what Trinis popularly call 'sooting'.

But the parts of the Act which interest us most are where it says the new offences "include following, making visual recordings of, stopping or accosting the person. It also includes watching, loitering near to or blocking access to the person’s residence, workplace, or any other place frequented by the person..." and "making contact with the person, whether by gesture, directly, verbally, by telephone, computer, post or in any other way."
The penalties for various offences "range from a fine of $2,000 and six months imprisonment, a $10,000 fine or $5,000 plus six months imprisonment upon summary conviction. A harassed person will also be able to have a protection order issued by the court."

We can already envision that some enterprising lawyer will use this legislation to prevent real investigative journalists from carrying out their duties in tracking down corrupt public officials. It can also now be used by lawyers representing people who want privacy following a murder, kidnapping or funeral, where we know members of the media have been quite intrusive.
The article quotes former UNC Senator Robin Montano, speaking in the Senate in 2005, as saying "“I do not see this legislation as giving sufficient protection to the press.”".

What are your thoughts on the legislation?
Is it going to prevent/stymie journalists from gathering information or will they just have to come up with more creative ways of doing their job?