January 19, 2007
Why the fear of being photographed?


There is absolutely no restriction on the taking of photographs in public places unless specifically barred by a court order.

Despite this, Journalists in St. Vincent and the Grenadines have unfortunately become accustomed to challenges being made to their right to take photographs in public places.

Sometimes, these challengers even get physical, and there are several cases on record where journalists’ cameras were destroyed.{{more}}

One would have hoped that in today’s enlightened age, such incidents would be increasingly infrequent, but sadly, the opposite is the case.

Just about a month ago, one of Searchlight’s reporters was told by a prison officer not to take a photograph of “the Government prisoners” who were cleaning in the Arnos Vale area after the tropical wave which caused the flooding of the airport.

Then this week, two of Searchlight’s staffers were falsely imprisoned in the Kingstown Cemetery because some Government officials were upset because a photograph was taken. Do these officials understand the seriousness of their action?

Any journalist would tell you that what most of these incidents have in common is that the resistance to being photographed normally comes from someone who holds an official position and who should know better. Very rarely do members of the general public react this way.

Ask any of these officials why they are objecting and a reason cannot be articulated. It seems as if the negative reaction to being photographed is almost a default one.

If the subject of the photograph

is carrying out his or her official business and acting within the law, why the fear?

Vat is 100 days away

The implementation of the Value Added Tax (VAT) is 100 days away, and VAT officials say it is definitely coming this time. 100 days is not a long time, but since the start-up date was pushed back from January 1 to May 1, it seems as if the momentum has been lost.

We should be guided by the reports coming from Guyana where VAT was introduced on January 1. The stories of widespread chaos and lack of preparedness on the part of many businesses was not encouraging.

We all as stakeholders: Government, the VAT unit, businesses and consumers need to awaken from our slumber and use this grace period to put our houses in order.

VAT is coming whether we like it or not.