Top CARICOM official denies plan to license journalists

GEORGETOWN, Guyana, October 30, 2009 – Secretary General of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), Edwin Carrington, says there’s no plan by the regional grouping or its Secretariat to license journalists.

The announcement came in response to concerns by media associations across the region about such a plan announced at a broadcasters’ workshop on the CARICOM Single Market and Economy (CSME) held in St Lucia two weeks ago.

Deputy Programme Manager for Services at the CARICOM Secretariat, Timothy Odle, had said that the registering and licensing of journalists would become a reality within three to five years, prompting several media bodies in regional countries, and the umbrella Association of Caribbean Media Workers (ACM), to serve notice that they would be putting up a fight.
But Carrington says he knows of no plans to license journalists and that he had made that “absolutely clear” to ACM President Wesley Gibbings in a telephone conversation earlier this week.

“All discussions have been related to criteria for acceptance as a journalist to ensure that bona fide journalists were the beneficiaries of free movement. There has never been any discussion about licensing,” the Secretary-General said.

“The media is a vital partner in the advancement of the regional integration process and their continued responsible reporting, analysis and commentary are valued in going forward.”

The Secretary-General noted that journalists were among the first categories singled out by Heads of Government in the Grand Anse Declaration of 1989 to be allowed the facility of free movement.

He gave no explanation as to why Odle would announce a licensing plan if there was none on the cards.