Barbados Court Attempts To Have Closed Bail Hearings For Arrested Journalists

Barbados Media Fraternity Show Solidarity At Court

Barbados Media Fraternity Show Solidarity With Arrested Journalists

Power Of Numbers Prevails As Barbados Court Opens To The Public

On Monday, a Barbados judge changed an earlier decision to have a closed bail hearing for the two freelance journalists arrested last Saturday when they tried to take photographs of a police officer charged with dealing in cocaine. (See Nation stories: Journalists Show Support & Media Close Ranks)

Despite the fact that only “some” family and media colleagues were allowed into the court, this was a stunning victory by the dozens of local news media people who showed up to support freelancers Cherie Pitt and Jimmy Gittens. It just shows what can happen when a few determined people challenge the system and say “This is wrong.”

Barbados Courts Often Operate In Secret, Closed Hearings

It may surprise our foreign readership to learn that here on Barbados, people are often brought before the closed courts where what happens is kept from the public. Judges on this island will order their court closed on the flimsiest of excuses so charges can be processed, dropped or negotiated to resolutions that would disturb the citizens if they only knew.

Transcripts of proceddings are seldom available even to lawyers – let alone to the media or public. Many “hearings” happen in the judges’ chambers where deals are sometimes made to “quietly let things fade away.”

The Barbados news media has often been part of such coverups and it is not uncommon for stories to just drop off the news media radar at the same time that deals are done in closed courts. Nothing is ever said again and the media remains quiet.

But the news media were not willing to let that happen on Monday with two of their own being dragged before a “closed to the public” court. They pushed, used their numbers and their power and the judge soon decided that the “public interest” required an open process in an open court.

We Have Two Messages For Members of the “Professional” Barbados Media

1. Congratulations on pressuring the judge to have an open process in an open court.

2. Why hasn’t the media made an issue of closed court hearings before? Why only when two of your own are before the court? Has the “professional” Barbados journalism community now decided that this abuse by judges in closing public courts should be addressed in the public interest? Will we see such professional interest the next time a Barbados judge closes a courtroom to the media and the public?

Or, is it as we suspect – that the fight to have an open and transparent Barbados justice system is only a media cause when journalists are before the courts?

The “professional” Barbados media has much to atone for with the Bajan public.


Filed under Barbados, Barbados News & Media, Corruption, Crime & Law, Ethics, Freedom Of Information, Freedom Of The Press, Human Rights, News Media

17 responses to “Barbados Court Attempts To Have Closed Bail Hearings For Arrested Journalists

  1. RRRicky

    This is a powerful article BFP. The media does have much to atone for but they have been trapped by habits of subservience that were passed from generation to generation.

  2. reality check

    subservience and years of intimidation and fear exercised by those elected and unelected officials who should know better.

    freedom and justice are a constant challenge for all citizens not a one time event for abused journalists.

    Hasn’t the CJ reached retirement age? and hasn’t the DPP long since demonstrated he is unfit for the job?

  3. anon

    BFP, Lord Nelson will get down off his stand and walk down Broad Street before the Bajan “journalists” do such again.

    This is all self interest. Once this case goes away then it will be business as usual for Bajan “journalists.”

    What is happening to these Bajan “journalists” has been happening to citizens of this country for years and the Bajan “journalists’ could not care less.

    Serves them right!

    Lazy bunch!

  4. This item was very true – As I see it, both sides are guilty, the media for not ensuring Police are sticking to their duty by co-operating too often in hopes of a scoop; and Police having a double standard for videoing or photographing a suspect regardless of affiliation (cops used to call CBC say “COME NOW” to get footage of a suspect, I am sure it still happens – but this was one of their own)…

    But Jimmy and Cherie are victims of circumstance each trying to score a buck as they are freelance and thus ensuring their livelihood and also obeying instructions.

    Both sides need to adhere to their original tenets of their job, less complicated.

  5. Lady Anon

    Ironic, isn’t it?

    Journalists won’t report on closed court hearings until it concerns one of their own…Police allow photographs of accused until it concerns one of their own.

    What goes around comes around.

  6. Barbados the Beautiful

    Let’s hear why the judge wanted to close the court at first. Was it so that they could punish Cherie and Jimmy without anybody watching? Maybe to avoid the court and police being embarrassed by the charges which are not even real?

    And if the press were allowed into the court when are we going to get a report about what happened? if we don’t then the press and court are squashing down freedom of the press and cozying up.

    The press are supposed to be on our side reporting everything that happens in court every day not just what the court wants them to tell.

    Best opportunity yet for the reporters to show what they are supposed to do.

  7. Pingback: Global Voices Online » Barbados: Journalists Appear in Court

  8. Knight of the Long Knives

    Interesting comments by Ian Bourne on the police calling jounalist to “come now”. It continues to impress me that he posts seemingly without fear of repercussions. I also know of cases where people have called the Nation to get their pictures removed from the court pages in some of those cases that are adjourned and never heard from again. Meanwhile the police continue to humiliate and harass ordinary taxpayers and so called journalist continue to look the other way on corruption at the highest levels.

  9. Knight of the Long Knives

    …and before I forget Merry Christmas to all the posters and moderators. Lets hope for a corruption free 2009 so we don’t have so much to talk about (rabbits can dream…).

  10. Rohan

    Ironic, isn’t it?

    Journalists won’t report on closed court hearings until it concerns one of their own…Police allow photographs of accused until it concerns one of their own.

    What goes around comes around.

    Great point Lady Anon

  11. De Original

    I think we need let this case run it’s course before the courts. I still have hope in the system. I look forward to seeing this situation resolved in a just fashion. I am one Bajan who believe that the system still works. I think all the hype is another way of the journalists who as BFP so rightly said dont report fair and honest, to misrepresent the facts and blow this situation outta hand…..

    Seasons Greetings to the Moderators and posters.

  12. Barbados,
    Calling from Kuala Lumpur,Malaysia!
    I am not sure how to linkk this site.
    So, I am “cutting & pasting” on to my blog
    We, in Malaysia, seem to be experiencing much the same as you guys, sans the names & places.
    Godspeed & Blessings for the New Year!

  13. Cliverton Not Signed In

    Thanks Jeyapalan, and the same to you.

    Good luck in your efforts to expose government corruption.

  14. rasta man

    Can anyone confirm Mia’s upcoming marriage?

  15. Adrian Hinds

    rasta man
    December 31, 2008 at 11:47 am
    Can anyone confirm Mia’s upcoming marriage?

    I’ll take your question to mean that it was not this one?

    Pudding and souse: Wedding of the year

    Date December 13, 2008
    Brief Pudding and souse: Wedding of the year
    THE sun will rise on the wedding of the year, which is due to take place this weekend.

    Pudding & Souse understands that only a few guests have been invited to witness this very intimate ceremony.

    The well-known brid

    THE SUN WILL RISE on the wedding of the year, which is due to take place this weekend.

    Pudding & amp; Souse understands that only a few guests have been invited to witness this very intimate ceremony.

    The well-known bride is said to be totally in love with her tall, dark and handsome groom and intends to sling him as close to her as possible.

    It is sure to be a picture-perfect ceremony and one that will have tongues wagging for some time to come.

  16. J

    Dear Adrian:

    I can’t let my husband know that I talking to you. But that Pudding and Souse item was Sade Leon Slinger’s second marriage which took place a week or two ago. Nice picture next day in the Sunday Sun.

    If Mia has an invitation for you and for Rastaman you all will get them in the fullness of time.

  17. Adrian Hinds

    J thanks for de update, but what is this repeat foolishness bout your husband and talking to me? does he know of me? If he really does, he would know that there isn’t a chance in hell of me having a relationship of any kind with another Bajan woman. One is enough for a life time.

    Bajan women always have secrets, foolish secrets at that, which makes it somewhat difficult to trust wunnuh. If yuh doubt muh look at you, hiding from your husband tuh talk to me. What is to stop you from hiding from him to “lie” with uh next nudder man? chuspe! 🙂 Nuh wonder you always got Mia’s back. She tell bajan men to grow some and learn tuh tek a horn. :), and not a word tuh wunnuh to adopt a culture of transperantcy