Miami (May 30, 2014)—Death threats made to a journalist in Trinidad and Tobago that forced him to leave his country were condemned today by the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), which urged the local authorities to ensure his protection and carry out a prompt investigation to determine who was responsible.
Mark Bassant, an investigative reporter with Trinidad and Tobago’s Caribbean Communication Network (CCN) TV6, left the country on May 11 after receiving the death threats. He filed a formal complaint with an official of the Intelligence Service of the National Security Ministry who he said in a video posted from his place in exile, http://www.trinidadexpress.com/videos/Death-Threat-260198221.html, had confirmed that his name appeared on a list of people ordered killed and in his case $20,000 had been paid for his disappearance.
Bassant recently investigated the murder of Dana Seetahal, a prominent lawyer and independent Senator, committed on May 3 and it is presumed that this could have been the reason for the threats to him. He also reported that according to one of his sources police officers were understood to have been monitoring him and informing those who wanted to kill him of his whereabouts.
The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, expressed solidarity with Bassant and declared, “It is regrettable that the authorities have not ensured his safety and he has had to leave the country for doing his work as a journalist and to avoid risks.”
Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, stressed “the urgency of resolving the case and identifying the guilty persons so as to prevent this kind of action against freedom of the press becoming a common pattern.”
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.