Public Relations Officer of the United Progressive Party, Damani Tabor is describing as “very accurate” findings in an international report which rates Antigua & Barbuda’s press as only partially free.
A US government- funded NGO, Freedom House, which researches and advocates on democracy, political freedom and human rights, found that every other independent country in the OECS has a press that is ranked as totally free, except the twin island state.
In fact, that NGO body gave Antigua & Barbuda the worst ranking for press freedom in the region.
“It is further confirmed by the attempt to shut down the OBSEVER Media Group,” Tabor said.
According to the PRO, other islands are “maintaining their game” where press freedom is concerned, and Antigua & Barbuda’s failure stems from government’s attempts to muzzle the media.
However, Freedom House in its 2017 report gave the country an overall positive rating for political and civil liberties.
On a scale of one being most free and seven as the least free, Antigua & Barbuda received two out of seven for both political rights and civil liberties.
However, Tabor said that finding lacks accuracy, because the opposition in Antigua & Barbuda is subjected to persecution “like never seen anywhere else”.
According to the UPP spokesman, the country’s judicial and political structure is behind other Caribbean islands.
“I do not see the level of incidents of political persecution in any of the other islands, so clearly, on that front, we are behind our neighbours,” he added.
Looking at the overall picture on a scale with 100 as the freest and zero as the least free, the country scores 83 out of 100 or eighty-three per cent.