The Viennese-based International Press Institute has called on Barbadian authorities to drop criminal indecency charges against three Nation newspaper senior employees.
Publisher Vivian-Anne Gittens, editor-in-chief Roy Morris and senior journalist Sanka Price face up to five years in prison in connection with the October 26, 2013 publication of a photograph that appeared to show two minors engaging in a sexual act in a classroom.
The publication allegedly breached the Protection Of Children Act.
However, IPI executive director Alison Bethel Mckenzie urged the authorities to drop the charges.
“The drafters of the Protection Of Children Act specifically contemplated instances in which the publication of images that might otherwise violate the act should not lead to criminal liability. Those exceptions include cases where there was a ‘legitimate reason for distributing or showing’ such material,” she said.
“Here, it is clear that The Nation believed that a news story with great impact on the community – a perceived failure by school administrators to adequately supervise students in their charge, and the resulting consequences – was in need of being told.
“Opinions may certainly differ widely on the tastefulness and propriety of printing this photo. But the decision to do so does not merit prison time. We urge authorities to end the criminal proceedings against these journalists,” she said.
Gittens, Morris and Price reappeared in court yesterday but the prosecution informed the court that it was not ready to begin, resulting in strong criticism from the defence lawyers Alair Shepherd and Ezra Alleyne. (CMC/DP)