Caribbean leaders statement over British media confrontation with PM Gonsalves

Hon. Ralph Gonsalves

BASSETERRE, ST. KITTS, FEBRUARY 20TH 2013 (CUOPM) – Caribbean Heads of Government have expressed their grave concern with the manner in which the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, the Hon. Ralph Gonsalves, a sitting CARICOM Head of Government, was reportedly confronted by international media representatives on a LIAT flight.

In a communiqué at the end of the 24th Inter-Sessional in Haiti, the Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) stated they received a report from the Prime Minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines on the manner in which he was reportedly accosted and tackled on an aircraft, and physically impeded by a team of individuals purporting to be members of the British media.

At the time of the incident, Prime Minister Gonsalves, his wife, and Ambassador Ellsworth John were on a LIAT airline en route to the Twenty-Fourth Inter-Sessional Meeting of Heads and State and Government of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

The communiqué said while fully supportive of the freedom of the press and the vital role played by a free, active and responsible press in governance and development, the Heads of Government emphasised that the dignity of the office of Head of State or Government within CARICOM is equal to that of any other nation, as are the attendant security concerns and expectations.

It added: “This dignity and security concern of a Head of Government cannot be violated by unidentified representatives of a foreign press service who, for whatever reason, expect a level of access to CARICOM Heads of State or Government that they would not receive from Heads of State and Government in their countries of origin.

The Heads of Government reiterated their individual willingness to be accessible to the media and responsive and forthcoming to reasonable requests from the press. They recommitted to the values of transparency, good governance and the free flow of information, which undergird the free and independent societies of CARICOM.”

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