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RSF urges Holness to repeal law that fines journalists $1M or prison time for taking photos of accused persons

International organisation, Reporters Without Borders (RSF), has written to Prime Minister Andrew Holness urging him to repeal legislative changes which could see journalists being fined up to a million dollars or one year in prison for taking photographs or sketches of accused persons. 
 
Section 33 of the Criminal Justice (Administration) Act was this year updated with new penalties.
 
The fine for breaching that law has been increased from $20 to $1 million.
 
In the letter dated November 22, the organisation, which advocates for press freedom, argued that the amendment is a significant escalation to existing penalties, which it believes are already problematic.
 
RSF contends that the amendment would have a chilling effect on the right of journalists to report on information in the public interest.
 
It says the penalties outlined in Section 33 are oppressive to a free press and exhibit a disregard for the Constitutional rights of  Jamaicans.
 
The Press Association of Jamaica and Media Association of Jamaica have also called for the repeal of that section of the law.
 
Jamaica is ranked eight out of 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders 2019 World Press Freedom Index.
 


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