KINGSTOWN, St. Vincent, Jun 26, CMC – Prime Minister Dr. Ralph Gonsalves has sought to distance his administration from a policy adopted by the police as it relates to the accreditation of media workers in St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
“I don’t know if the press thinks that we should have some agency to do some accreditation but the truth of the matter is this, you have freedom of the press, freedom of expression in this country and freedom of expression includes freedom of the press,” Prime Minister Gonsalves said.
Earlier this year, Assistant Superintendent of Police, Jonathan Nicholls, who is also head of the Public Relations and Complaint Department of the police, said that freelance journalist, Kenton X. Chance, who is also the founder of the local website, I-Witness News, would not be placed on a mailing list to receive public information notices (PINs) from the police.
“Well, I am the Minister of National Security and I answer your questions all that time …” the Prime Minister said, adding seemingly light-heartedly that he has not visited I-Witness News since Chance took a brief hiatus in May.
Chance, who has had more than 10 years experience as a journalist and is the holder of a degree in journalism and mass communication, has worked for local, regional and international media organisations.
The senior police officer suggested that Chance write to the Commissioner of Police, Keith Miller, requesting that he be allowed to receive the PINs.
But when he was quizzed on the issue at a news conference, Prime Minister Gonsalves said he has always had an open relationship with the media, adding “if they (journalist) ask me something that I don’t want to answer or I don’t think is prudent at the time to answer or that I don’t know the answer to, I say it and this is what I expect that everybody will do”.
But he also sought to determine the reasons behind the questions on the police-media relationship.
“Has a need arisen for this? What is the purpose? Why you say that,” he asked, noting that he is not aware that “I don’t know if he (Nicholls) speaks for the Commissioner of Police in this regard”.