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St lucia minister expands legal threat to media

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St lucia minister expands legal threat to media

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St lucia minister expands legal threat to media

  1. 1.     St  Lucia  Minister  Expands  Legal  Threat  To  Media     By  Caribbean  News  Now  contributor     CASTRIES,  St  Lucia  -­‐-­‐  Expanding  on  a  press  statement  released  on  Friday,  in  which   he  announced  that  he  was  commencing  legal  action  against  a  local  journalist,  Saint   Lucia’s  minister  for  legal  affairs,  home  affairs  and  national  security,  Phillip  La   Corbiniere,  told  reporters  that  “a  number  of  ministers  have  also  instructed  their   attorneys  to  begin  to  take  legal  action  of  various  kinds.”     Ironically,  the  foundation  for  the  threatened  action  by  La  Corbinere  and  others  for   alleged  damage  to  their  reputation  appears  in  turn  to  relate  to  allegations  that  so  far   unnamed  members  of  the  St  Lucia  Labour  Party  (SLP)  tarnished  the  reputation  of   former  housing  minister  Richard  Frederick  by  supplying  false  information  to  US   embassy  officials.     In  his  formal  statement  on  Friday,  the  minister  did  not  elaborate  on  what  that  legal   action  was;  what  conduct  or  comment  he  found  objectionable;  or  what  others  are   going  to  be  included  in  the  threatened  action.     However,  he  now  claims  that  he  will  “not  have  his  reputation  destroyed  by   Caribbean  News  Now,”  which  he  described  as  “a  ragtag  called  Caribbean  news  
  2. 2. because  it’s  nothing  more  than  a  ragtag.”     In  saying  this,  La  Corbiniere  seems  to  be  ignorant  of  the  fact  that  Caribbean  News   Now,  along  with  its  predecessor  publication,  has  been  publishing  regional  news  for   over  ten  years  and  outranks  any  other  regional  website  in  every  measure,  usually  by   several  orders  of  magnitude,  with  website  visitors  and  page  views  measured  in  the   millions  annually.     In  the  words  of  one  regional  commentator,  “The  irony  and  hypocrisy  of  La   Corbiniere  complaining  about  having  his  professionalism  besmirched  while   besmirching  that  of  Caribbean  News  Now  is  completely  lost  on  him.”     According  to  La  Corbiniere,  lawsuits  will  be  filed  by  individuals  referenced  by   Caribbean  News  Now,  again  without  elaborating  on  which  individuals  have   apparently  been  offended  or  what  they  found  offensive.     Responding  to  La  Corbiniere’s  announcement,  Richard  Frederick  referred  to  a   passage  in  Lord  of  the  Flies  by  George  Orwell:  "All  animals  are  equal,  but  some   animals  are  more  equal  than  others,"  the  lesson  in  which,  he  said,  resonated  loudly   in  his  mind  as  he  (La  Corbiniere)  threatens  to  sue  to  safeguard  his  own  reputation.     “But  what  about  the  reputations  of  those  like  me  who  others  (they  know   themselves)  have  deliberately,  calculatedly  and  persistently  dragged  in  the  mud?   What  about  the  concocted  stories  hatched  by  men  with  no  conscience  and  who  are   pregnant  with  a  hunger  to  rule  by  any  means  necessary?  How  many  cases  will  we,   their  victims,  have  to  file;  and  in  which  court  will  we  receive  justice?  While  some   men  hurry  to  court  to  shelter  their  names,  justice  simply  passes  others  by.  Still,   there  are  those  who  have  suffered  damage  so  great  it  is  beyond  undoing  by  any   court.  Indeed,  in  my  case  I  have  been  forced  to  rely  on  the  fact  that  we  are  all   temporal  beings  and,  like  us,  the  wicked  deeds  that  we  dish  out  to  others  will  last   only  for  a  time,”  he  said.     Frederick  added  that  he  is  reminded  every  day  of  a  quote  from  Ephesians  6:12:  "For   we  wrestle  not  against  flesh  and  blood,  but  against  principalities,  against  powers,   against  the  rulers  of  the  darkness  of  this  world,  against  spiritual  wickedness  in  high   places!"     La  Corbiniere  failed  to  deal  with  the  issue  of  the  lack  of  responsiveness  by  the  Saint   Lucia  government  to  a  request  for  comment  and  clarification  prior  to  the   publication  of  the  Caribbean  News  Now  article  to  which  he  and  his  colleagues   apparently  take  offence.     Last  Thursday,  while  claiming  to  be  on  vacation,  the  prime  minister’s  press   secretary  Jadia  Jn.  Pierre  responded  belatedly  by  way  of  an  online  public  comment   that  “You  were  informed  via  email  that  I  am  on  leave  until  September  27,  2013.  Yet,   you  feel  comfortable  stating  that  the  press  secretary  had  two  days  to  reply  to  your  
  3. 3. questions?  Really?  I  have  a  timeline  by  which  to  work?  Further,  given  what  I  have   seen,  the  option  that  I  request  that  your  article  be  held  off  until  I  respond  is   ridiculous!”     She  continued,  “Of  course,  one  day  you  will  call  it  an  infringement  of  your  freedom   to  broadcast...  anything  you  want...  whenever  you  want.  There  are  other  people  who   may  be  able  to  dictate  when  you  publish  and  what  you  publish,  I  do  not  wish  to  play   that  role.”     However,  another  reader  pointed  out  that  “a  press  secretary  or  press  officer  is  a   senior  advisor  who  provides  advice  on  how  to  deal  with  the  news  media  and,  using   news  management  techniques,  helps  their  employer  to  maintain  a  positive  public   image  and  avoid  negative  media  coverage.”     Certainly,  nothing  was  done  last  week  to  help  “maintain  a  positive  public  image  and   avoid  negative  media  coverage.”     In  response  to  a  request  for  comment,  the  Lucian  Peoples  Movement  (LPM)  said:   “Mrs  Jn.  Pierre's  response  to  your  inquiry  for  a  comment  on  allegations  regarding   the  revocation  of  Richard  Frederick's  visa  is  a  sad  reflection  of  the  kind  of  mindless   arrogance  and  unprofessionalism  that  have  come  to  characterized  Saint  Lucia   Labour  Party  rule  since  returning  to  office  in  2011.     “Apparently,  Jadia  Jn.  Pierre  does  not  seem  to  understand  that  being  the  prime   minister's  press  secretary  is  a  function  supported  by  the  national  purse,  and  that   greater  care  must  be  exercised  so  as  to  not  give  the  impression  of  public  rudeness.     “Moreover,  being  a  press  secretary  to  the  prime  minister  of  Saint  Lucia  requires  not   only  tact,  but  a  deep  understanding  by  the  office  holder  that  your  public  behaviour   is  a  reflection  of  the  government  which  you  serve.”     The  opposition  United  Workers  Party  (UWP)  has  so  far  failed  to  provide  any   comment  on  the  matter  for  publication.     The  LPM  also  remarked  on  this,  saying  that  was  quite  puzzling  that  the  United   Workers  Party,  of  which  Richard  Frederick  is  a  member  and  sitting  MP,  has  not  seen   it  fit  to  offer  an  official  statement  on  the  issue.     “Could  this  be  an  indication  of  an  internal  rift  within  the  UWP?”  the  LPM  asked.     While  it  would  be  helpful  if  the  government  of  Saint  Lucia  could  offer  an  official   clarification  on  the  matter  (in  keeping  with  their  promise  made  while  in  opposition),   the  onus  is  also  on  the  United  Workers  Party  to  help  bolster  their  colleague’s  claim   of  vindication,  the  LPM  added.     In  the  meantime,  despite  La  Corbiniere’s  repeated  denials  that  this  is  not  an  attack  
  4. 4. on  the  media  generally,  a  number  of  international  press  freedom  organisations  are   alert  to  the  situation  and  are  no  doubt  keeping  a  close  eye  on  it.  

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