The Press Association of Jamaica (PAJ) has condemned Monday night’s attack on journalists at the People’s National Party (PNP) headquarters, saying “the threat of rape is a new low which has sent chills among female journalists in Jamaica.”
It noted that in one incident, a Radio Jamaica journalist was threatened with rape and verbally attacked along with a Nationwide News reporter.
In a second incident, which happened simultaneously, a Television Jamaica crew was threatened by a PNP supporter at the party headquarters. The supporter reportedly picked up a stone and began approaching and threatening the reporter before eventually throwing away the stone.
The PAJ said it stands in solidarity with the affected journalists and called on the authorities to thoroughly investigate the incident and bring those responsible to justice.
“These acts are unacceptable and a violation of the fundamental human rights of the journalists,” said PAJ president Milton Walker.
He said the PAJ is also deeply disturbed by the actions of the party’s deputy general secretary, Dexroy Martin who criticised the Radio Jamaica and Nationwide reporters for wearing green clothing to the PNP headquarters.
The PAJ is calling for political parties and their supporters to respect the role of journalists and to refrain from any actions that may threaten their safety or independence.
“The safety and security of journalists must be a top priority for all, and any attack on the press is an attack on democracy itself,” the organisation stated.
It said the incidents are particularly troubling given that they occurred just one week after World Press Freedom Day on which Jamaica plunged on the global Press Freedom Index moving from 12th to 32nd.