Features — 01 March 2016 — by Johnelle McKenzie
IMPACT allowed journalists an opportunity to sharpen their skills and strengthen their ties

ST. MICHAEL, Barbados, Fri. Feb. 26, 2016–A two-day seminar which sought to educate the regional media on legal matters, held at the Radisson Hotel, came to an end on Wednesday, February 24. The seminar was an initiative of Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean, IMPACT Justice, which is based at the Faculty of Law Institute at the University of the West Indies, Cavehill Campus in Barbados.

At the end of the seminar, students were given certificates for their participation. The certificates were presented by Walter Bernyck, Head of the Cooperation, Government of Canada. He said, “The rights and responsibilities that the media have, continue to evolve even now, further into the digital platform. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that the media understand their role and the responsibility which come along with it, especially with information traveling faster now than ever before, since 70% of the world’s adult population has a smart phone.”

Velma Newton, Regional Project Director of Improved Access to Justice in the Caribbean, IMPACT Justice, told Amandala “It started in 2014 and is funded by the Canadian government to a total of CAN $19.2 million, and the object is to improve access to justice for the citizens of the Caribbean Region, and the project will last for five years.”

Students had the following to say about the workshop: L. K. Hewlett, Managing Editor, St.Kitts-Nevis Observer, told Amandala, “It has brought back a lot of fundamentals of journalism that some of us tend to forget.” Hewlett added, “As an editor, it has allowed me to make sure that we are following what we are prescribed to do, which is to respect people’s rights, stay within the acts of the law and try to keep a fair balance in reporting.”

Tony Nicholas, Editor of St. Lucia Star newspaper, told Amandala that the workshop allowed media practitioners from across the Caribbean to build ties and become informed of the happenings in the other countries and to share and compare information.

Brenton Henry, the Director of News in Antigua & Barbuda told Amandala, “The topics were real life circumstances that media workers question, debate and battle on a daily basis, such as copyright laws and intellectual property issues.”

Sharon Garaway, of St. Vincent & the Grenadines, told Amandala, “The ability to always sharpen your craft is important – you can never know too much. Knowing the rights that you have as a journalist and exercising those rights is important; however, knowing the rights of persons that you interact with is critical for objectivity, fairness, balance and justice. These are timely reminders that we should always remember the basics of why we work.”

Velma Newton said that IMPACT has been actively involved in the training of mediators to equip them to help those in their communities who have a dispute, to prevent the dispute from escalating and turning into a matter for the court. Newton added that the mediators will allow for a reduction in the cases that the court sees.

At the close of the seminar Newton mentioned that IMPACT will be in Grenada on February 29 to March 4, for a 5-day workshop on alternative dispute resolution (ADR) components. Then in April IMPACT will be in Belize, where they will be holding a workshop focusing on the rights of indigenous people in the region.

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