International agency raises concerns over gov’t influence on journalists

Sagaga raised the concerns while addressing journalists in Brussels

Brussels – The man who heads Human Rights and Safety of the International Federation of Journalists, based in Brussels, Ernest Sagaga, has said his organization is concerned that governments worldwide are trying to intimidate and influence journalists on how they report.

He said journalists should be able to report independently without fear or favor.

He made the comments when he addressed a group of journalists, including Carlisle Jno Baptiste, representing Dominica News Online (DNO), who are on a one-week study tour in Brussels organized by the European Union.

Sagaga, a former employee of the BBC, where he worked for many years, said it’s time that they (governments) stop such behaviors.

“We have every single day been receiving complaints from all over from journalist who say that government officials are trying to intimidate them and influence them on how they report which is contrary to what our ethics dictates,” he said.

Asked if such complaints were received by Caribbean journalist he said ‘yes”.

“Those kinds of complaints also exist in the Caribbean and we are very much concerned about that. Journalists need to be able to report independently without fair or favour so that we can properly inform our public so that they also can make an independent decision,” he said.

He explained that there are criteria used to determine whether there is good governance in a country and they include “democracy which is translated into regular free and fair elections; rule of law which means the independence of the judiciary and a free press.”

“So when they ((government) supports journalism, they actually reap the rewards. Therefore it’s in their own interest to ensure that journalists do their jobs properly and are not intimidated,” he stated.

He also lashed out at media owners and senior editors who do little to assist staff.

“The employers, meaning the media owners or senior editors, have a duty of care for their staff and need to ensure that their staff has the basic understanding of what they are supposed to do including the kind of training and equipment needed,” he remarked.

They also, he said, must ensure that the social working conditions under which they perform their duties are good.

“We regard this as a very important obligation on employers and we want that to be first,” Sagaga stated.

He called on journalists to organize themselves properly to ensure that they are protected.

Journalists, he said, are “constantly” under attack in the region and around the world, while some are being killed and sued.

His organization, he said, has established a fund which is for journalist and will assist them in times of need.

“We have an International Safety Fund which was created by journalists for journalists to make sure that any journalist who is in need can come to us for assistance,” he stated.

Caribbean journalists at the event

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11 Comments

  1. John Public
    June 29, 2017

    I wish to recommend that the EU commission a review of media practice in Dominica, in order to assess the work of those who refer to themselves as media practitioners or journalist. The objective is to make an independent assessment of the work of our journalists and to determine whether they meet the high standards set out by well established, well known media houses in the developed world. The study should distinguish between “Talkshow Hosts” and “Journalists”.

  2. motorhead
    June 28, 2017

    ‘without fear or favour’

    Protecting the free press is critical to democracy. So is a high standard of journalism.

  3. Dumb
    June 28, 2017

    Only one thing missing, Mr. Sagaga. You should have instructed your fellow journalists to stay away from fake news and to cease being advocates for politicians and political parties: e.g.. Carlisle JnoBaptiste and Mat Peltier . If they report the truth they should not be concerned about being sued.

    • oh yes!
      June 28, 2017

      it is so sad to see that you have taken on the “man – child” behaviour of Trump. It seems that you have lost all your adult senses and have entered into this childish talk. You and Trump – once it don’t make you or your regime look then it is fake. If Matt and Carlisle are reporting fake news – why then truth always comes out to justify what they say? Please identity one issues or news reported which was fake. Lying is an abomination unto the Lord. Stop being holding evil and wrong and calling truth – fake. We are indeed living in the last days

    • FORKIT
      June 29, 2017

      like curtis mathew and the other journalist that cannot ask the hard questions to the pm and just report what he say….

  4. Ibo France
    June 28, 2017

    Too many media outlets in these small Caribbean countries act like surrogates for the ruling regimes. Some media houses do the same for opposition parties but these are, for the most part, are in the minority. Instead of reporting the news unbiased and unvarnished so that people can critically analyze the information for themselves, they are fed with superfluous governmental propaganda. It is therefore no accident nor surprise why so many people are duped by this poisonous disinformation as it is so ubiquitous. Lastly, there should be equal access to the State’s Radio Station by government and opposition parties. DBS should not be so shamelessly and grotesquely used as a government propaganda machine. That entity is taxpayers’ (the people’s) property.

    • June 28, 2017

      The state shouldn’t even have a radio station in the first place. Those things that private industry and non-profit organisations can do, they should do, and news media is manifestly one of those things.

    • John Public
      June 29, 2017

      See the recent revelation of Mr. Sam Rapahel re the credit type arrangements for the sale of Dominica’s diplomatic passports. If you are a supporter of the PM Skerrit, then Sam Raphael is a God-send” If you are a supporter of the UWP, then Sam Raphael is a LIAR, beggar for crumbs from Skerrit’s table, a bum, etc. There is no independent media house in Dominica that can undertake an investigation into the matter. The public, including the media practitioners and journalists is divide into two distinct camps. Those who believe Sam because of their allegiance to their political party or those who does not believe Sam for the same reason – allegiance to their party. Did “Carlisle” understand that the requests for governments to allow the media to do its work also carries with it the responsibility to be he honest and factual in what he reports? Is he, or can he be an independent operator on the instant matter – sale of diplomatic passports? Keep searching for the needle in the hay…

  5. Ras
    June 28, 2017

    Did the DNO representative at the event say whether Mr Savaga cautioned journalists to avoid repotting palpable fake news and promoting their political agendas

  6. cartigan
    June 28, 2017

    What crap is dat,,dno,,no news is better than stupid news,,theres bad news fake news stupid news an good news,,cali hav a phone outside d courthouse everybody laughing him,caling mat breaking news,,matalone dat respecting him,,cali is journalist,,realy,,dat whythey detain him,nobody cant beliv this man a journast,,

    • June 29, 2017

      Cartigan you a the one I don’t believe, the problem with what is happening in my Island Dominica has nothing to do with news or constructive comments it have so to do with if you like the person or not and the party they support. It is so sad that we have dropped down to such low standards that we refuse to respect others and there views we have to find ways of dealing with such.

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