Cayman Islands lawmakers punish reporter who opposed secret sessions

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  • December 23, 2010

By Maira Magro

Freedom of expression activists spoke out against the island’s Legislative Assembly for trying to prosecute Brent Fuller, a journalist for the Caymanian Compass, for an article criticizing a plan to review the country’s information access laws in closed-door committee hearings.

The lawmakers banned Fuller from covering legislative sessions for a week and passed a motion asking the Attorney General to charge the journalist with defamation. The reporter's article about the secret hearings was followed by an editorial that warned that WikiLeaks should not be an excuse for weaker information access laws.

According to the Compass, the Speaker of the House said that Fuller’s articles had the effect of “defaming the integrity of the country’s Legislative Assembly and the integrity of its honourable members” and that covering the Assembly is a “privilege, not a right.” While the lawmakers demanded that he apologize, the editor said he would not, and the Attorney General said he wouldn’t charge Fuller or the Compass.

Members of the Freedom of Information Advocates Network (FOIAnet) praised the prosecutor’s decision, but warned that the lawmakers' actions against Fuller would harm press freedom and legislative coverage.

Note from the editor: This story was originally published by the Knight Center’s blog Journalism in the Americas, the predecessor of LatAm Journalism Review.