Dear Mr. Prime Minister:
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is alarmed by the Grenadian government’s recent attempts to intimidate the local media, including legal actions against the press for reporting alleged wrongdoing by you.
On March 30, the Miami-based Internet newsletter OffshoreAlert published a report alleging that you had accepted $500,000 for appointing a U.S. national to a diplomatic position. You denied the report, saying you had done nothing improper.
On May 10, the opposition National Democratic Congress held a press conference denouncing the alleged corruption of the government, as reported in OffshoreAlert. The Grenadian’s Government Information Service then issued a warning that media outlets that broadcast or published the content of the press conference could face legal action. Within a few days, the government had filed a criminal libel lawsuit in Grenada brought by you against OffshoreAlert and its publisher, David Marchant, a British national.
On May 11, Odette Campbell, the news director for the Grenada Broadcasting Network, which is 40 percent owned by your government, walked out of a press conference held by the minister of tourism to protest the government’s attitude toward the local media. About a dozen other journalists also participated in the walk out. Campbell was suspended for one week for her actions, and on May 25 she resigned from her position. She told CPJ that she believed that the government was responsible for her suspension but that she could not confirm her suspicions.
On May 27, Leroy Noel, a Grenadian freelance reporter, was held for questioning about the content of an article published on May 21 in the Grenadian weekly Spice Isle Review. The article, “NNP days are numbered,” reported on connections between members of the ruling New National Party and people accused of corruption. The journalist, who regularly contributes to the Cayman Islands-based Caribbean Net News, told CPJ that four police officers detained him while he was on his way to work at around 6:15 a.m. Authorities released Noel four hours later without charge.
On June 2, Noel said he received an anonymous death threat on his mobile phone. Noel told CPJ that an unidentified male ordered him to stop writing about the prime minister or he would be killed. After Noel received the threat, his attorney, Anselm Clouden, requested that Grenada’s police commissioner begin an investigation on the matter and provide security for Noel.
The recent actions of intimidation taken by your government are a clear attempt to obstruct Grenadian journalists from doing their work of disseminating information. With all due respect, your actions call into question your personal commitment to democracy. We call on you to drop all legal actions against journalists and to desist from any efforts to curtail the work of the press.