CASTRIES: The main opposition United Workers Party (UWP) accused the government on Monday of seeking to stifle press freedom in St. Lucia and announced that it was lending support to journalist and talk show host, Timothy Poleon, who is being sued by National Security Minister, Phillip La Corbiniere.
Last weekend, La Corbiniere announced that he had started legal proceedings against Poleon and Radio Caribbean International (RCI) as a prelude to similar action being taken against other media establishments and journalists here.
La Corbiniere said he has been severely criticized over a number of matters related to his ministry during the past few months.
“I believe it would be very fair to say that since my entry into political life in this country, I have bent over backwards to ensure that the media have complete access to me and also that they feel comfortable in the pursuit of questions directed at me and ensuring that they are able to have those,” said La Corbiniere, insisting that his lawsuit should not be viewed as an attack on the media in St. Lucia.
The UWP has said it was standing firmly with Poleon and the media against any legal action taken by La Corniniere.
“We request that Mr. La Corbiniere provide the nation with justified reasons for pursuing legal action against Mr. Poleon and Radio Caribbean International,” it said. “The UWP further calls on Mr. La Corbiniere to clarify whether the statement and allegations referred to and found on the World Wide Web are true.
“Must media workers, in the execution of their duties and responsibilities, suffer the rampant persecution and onslaught of name calling such as labelling Mr. Poleon a ‘media terrorist?’
“It appears that the SLP (St. Lucia Labour Party) administration has developed a pattern of intimidation each time they assume office to gain total control of the media by its statements, threats and now, manifested actions.”
The UWP recalled the failed attempt by the SLP administration a few years ago at passing legislation to achieve that goal.
“It is sad that a government, elected by the people to uphold the law, would now turn on its people by infringing upon their fundamental democratic rights, traditions and freedom of the press in St. Lucia,” the UWP said.