Press freedom groups condemn police raid on newspaper, reporter's home in Trinidad and Tobago

After police in Trinidad and Tobago raided the office of the Newsday newspaper and the home of reporter Andre Bagoo on Thursday, Feb. 9, the Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) is calling for police to apologize and return Bagoo's hard drive and personal computers, reported the Trinidad Express.

The raid on the newspaper in this Caribbean county, coming on the heels of the December 29 raid on the Caribbean Communications Network (CCN), has prompted swift condemnation from media groups and concern that press freedom in Trinidad is under attack, according to the Caribbean Journal.

The Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM) and the International Press Institute joined MATT in condemning the Anti Corruption Investigations Bureau's raid on the newspaper, as the "actions of the police reek of intimidation" and are a "threat to press freedom," ACM said in a statement.

Police were searching the newspaper and the reporter's home for evidence of what police believe was illegally obtained information that resulted in an article, published Dec. 20, 2011, about a controversy among members of the Integrity Commission. Police requested disclosure of the journalist's information source, but the newspaper refused to cooperate, according to another article from the Trinidad Express. "It is fundamental that a journalist be able to protect information sources. Without this, his or her work is severely impaired," Newsday said in a statement, quoted by the Express.

Meanwhile, Newsday is reporting that since the raid, police have been staking out Bagoo's home in an attempt to intimidate the journalist, reported the Trinidad Express on Wednesday, Feb. 15, adding that the police commissioner denies giving police surveillance orders.

In an editorial published Tuesday, Feb. 14, titled "Fire Him," Newsday called on the government of Trinidad and Tobago to "cease its pussyfooting around the issue of press freedom and abuse of authority in this country and to take firm and immediate action to demonstrate its commitment to democracy and to a free press." The editorial also demanded the immediate resignation of the police commissioner, Dwayne Gibbs.