Regulatory policy

St Maarten: Media to follow amended policy to cover government briefings

The Department of Communication (DCOMM) of Sint Maarten has announced that in looking at ways to raise the level of the Council of Ministers press briefing, it has changed its policy for journalists wishing to participate.

As such, media partners who are currently authorized to attend the press conference will all need to reapply for a press pass no later than May 1, 2022. Said pass will be valid for one year.

This is the only way for them to participate in the weekly Sint Maarten government press briefings/conferences.

DCOMM recalls that at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, rules and regulations were adapted to the situation, including virtual press briefings and the participation of relevant media.

Amid growing concerns over the level of questions being asked, the policy has been reviewed over the past few months and updated and approved in the first week of April 2022.

DCOMM adds that as explained during a press briefing on April 6, the LMA (Regulations on Civil Servants) according to article 52 stipulates that the civil servant who wants to perform duties outside his job description (whether in as sole proprietor or other position) must have the authorization of his or her department head and such position must not conflict with current office in government.

He notes that a civil servant performing the role of a journalist during a press briefing is considered inappropriate and therefore in conflict with his function as a civil servant. As such, no passes will be issued for this under the amended policy.

While many regulations may not have been strictly enforced in the past, DCOMM seeks to raise the bar in facilitating factual information to the public, and accreditation criteria will be strictly enforced.

He states that this press briefings platform cannot be a platform in which the “media” are on a witch hunt to spread rumors or confidential information, because anyone can create a platform. form of social media and express opinions, but it is at the discretion of DCOMM and ultimately the Council of Ministers that will determine the caliber of reporting/journalism allowed to interrogate the executive branch of government.

It indicates that topics should be relevant to policies, programs, etc. of the government with the aim of informing and not misinforming the general public. DCOMM stated that during the year the policy will continue to be reviewed and evaluated. Media partners will be able to give their opinion which will be taken into account as far as possible.

It is recommended that a Media Guild be established with guidelines to define which media are recognized and respected by their peers, thereby removing the burden of accreditation from DCOMM and placing it through the Guild.