Jamaica | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Jamaica

Jamaica

Freedom of the Press 2005

2005 Scores

Press Status

Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

15

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

5

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

6

The constitution of Jamaica protects freedom of expression but does not explicitly mention the press. Most people are satisfied that the broad protection of freedom of speech covers the media. However, some media outlets expressed the need for reform of the country's libel laws, particularly the courts' ability to award high damages in defamation cases, which cause some journalists to practice self-censorship. The Gleaner Company, a major publishing house, and Dudley Stokes, a former editor of several Gleaner newspapers, have appealed to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to reverse a 1996 Jamaican court ruling that imposed a huge financial penalty on the Gleaner Company and Stokes for allegedly libeling a corrupt public official. In April, the director of public prosecutions threatened talk show hosts who discussed criminal cases pending before the courts with criminal sanctions or fines. The 2002 Access to Information Act provides for freedom of information. However, in 2004 the government planned to introduce harsh antiterrorism legislation, the broad definitions of which could prohibit publication of official documents and threaten press freedom, according to Amnesty International. Jamaica's mostly private print media express diverse views and frequently criticize the government. There are 14 private radio stations, 3 private television stations, 3 major daily newspapers, and a number of community newspapers. For the most part, the government has consistently shown respect for journalistic independence and has supported competition in the media as a means of giving the public a choice of information sources.