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Barbados

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Last updated on 06.08.2020 at 16:04

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Photojournalist Christoff Griffith killed while covering a crime in Barbados

Photojournalist Christoff Griffith killed while covering a crime in Barbados

On 22nd June 2020, an assailant attacked and killed Christoff Griffith, a photojournalist working with The Nation newspaper. According to local news, Griffith responded to the report of a murder in an abandoned property in St Michel, southwest Barbados.

Expression

On 22nd June 2020, an assailant attacked and killed Christoff Griffith, a photojournalist working with The Nation newspaper. According to local news, Griffith responded to the report of a murder in an abandoned property in St Michel, southwest Barbados. He arrived before the police and was killed by the suspected perpetrator of the original crime. A suspect was reportedly arrested on the same day.

Griffith’s colleagues published a tribute in The Nation. “The mere thought that one of our own, young photojournalist Christoff Griffith, was killed so tragically while on assignment is beyond belief, even though we are all aware of the risk to our journalists and photographers as they go after the news,” said the CEO of the media group, Noel Wood.

Peaceful Assembly

In June 2020, people in Barbados joined demonstrations in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter protests in the United States and against racism in both countries. On 6th June 2020, the Caribbean Movement for Peace and Integration organised a protest in front of the U.S. Embassy in St Michel to demand justice for the killing of an unarmed Black man, George Floyd, at the hands of a white police officer in Minneapolis. The protest was quickly dispersed by police following issues with the demonstration permit.

A second march took place in Bridgetown on 13th June 2020, with scores of demonstrators bearing placards with messages such as “Take Your Knee Off My Neck” and “Racism is the Pandemic”. “Despite being a majority black country, the claws of discipline and population control from the colonial era are still clenched tight around the necks of our civil society. How could they not be? The system of oppression that built America’s destructive racial tensions between the white and black community has a foundation in the Slave Code created here to control the enslaved people in Barbados,” said activist Luci Hammans at the rally. They also criticised public order legislation which requires organisers to obtain permission for protests, posing obstacles to the exercise of freedom of peaceful assembly.

Barbadians also mobilised to demand the removal of a statue of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson from Bridgetown’s National Heroes Square, noting that the naval commander was against the abolition of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade. An online petition called “Nelson Must Go” gathered over 10,000 signatures and on 24th July 2020 government authorities announced the statue would be moved to a different location. Social media has been a powerful tool for Black Barbadians to share their own experiences of racism and to speak out against racial inequity, using hashtags such as #ScreenshotARacist, #DoTheWork, #BlacketyBlackBlackBlack, and #SupportBlackBusiness.

Association

The constitution of Barbados, in Article 21, provides that nobody can be deprived of the right to ‘associate with other persons’ and form ‘associations for the protection of his interests’. The only exceptions to this rule occur when it is ‘reasonably required’ for ‘defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health’ or the protection of the rights of others.

The constitution of Barbados, in Article 21, provides that nobody can be deprived of the right to ‘associate with other persons’ and form ‘associations for the protection of his interests’. The only exceptions to this rule occur when it is ‘reasonably required’ for ‘defence, public safety, public order, public morality or public health’ or the protection of the rights of others.

Peaceful Assembly

Protests are relatively frequent in Barbados and usually peaceful – recent protests have addressed a range of issues including unfair dismissal of workers, opposition to a new government tax and a hike in student fees. Barbados’ laws on public gatherings fall short of international standards and best practices related to peaceful assembly.

Protests are relatively frequent in Barbados and usually peaceful – recent protests have addressed a range of issues including unfair dismissal of workers, opposition to a new government tax and a hike in student fees. Barbados’ laws on public gatherings fall short of international standards and best practices related to peaceful assembly. Rather than simply notifying the authorities of their intention to gather, organisers of public meetings, marches and processions must first obtain prior permission, in the form of a permit from the Commissioner of Police. They must also list the names of all non-citizens who are due to speak at those events. The law also grants a government minister sweeping powers to ban meetings and protests in whole areas of the country, if he or she deems that to be ‘in the interest of public safety.’

Expression

Barbados has a healthy respect for free speech and a vibrant media space ensures that people have access to a range of views and opinions. Like most Caribbean countries, defamation remains a criminal offence in Barbados and the punishment for libel is imprisonment of up to 12 months or a fine, although actual use of these laws appears to be rare.

Barbados has a healthy respect for free speech and a vibrant media space ensures that people have access to a range of views and opinions. Like most Caribbean countries, defamation remains a criminal offence in Barbados and the punishment for libel is imprisonment of up to 12 months or a fine, although actual use of these laws appears to be rare. Barbados has no law in place that allows citizens access to government information, despite repeated promises by the government to enact a law. Positively however, Barbados has done away with sedition laws that criminalise criticism or insulting of the government or heads of state. The Internet is not restricted or censored in Barbados, and, in 2014, almost 77% of people were online.