On behalf of Her Majesty’s Honourable Opposition in Montserrat, we greet as distasteful and a matter of serious concern, the suspension or attempted termination of the ‘What’s On Your Mind’ programme heard on ZJB on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 8:30am and 10am. The programme has become a major outlet for views, news, information and discussion for people from all levels of society in Montserrat. The Government itself is otherwise silent.
We therefore call on the Government of Montserrat to address any moral turpitude and misbehaviour in the public service before it allows or suppresses freedom of expression on our Community Radio Station. We remind the Government that the station belongs to the People of Montserrat.
While we recognize the right of the Government and ZJB to have oversight of the Community Radio Station, the Government has no right to stop or suspend the ‘What’s On Your Mind’ programme. Live telephone calls have always been a feature on Radio ZJB. We question what new rules could over-ride freedom of expression so drastically in Montserrat in this our 70th Year of Parliamentary Democracy.
It is unconscionable that the Government has orchestrated an attack upon free speech and freedom of the media in Montserrat. It is unheard of in a modern society that any new rules in broadcasting cannot be introduced without an attack on Freedom of Expression on a national radio station. No number of additional controls can blot out this grave attack on a programme run by a respected and veteran broadcaster who has respected the laws on defamation. Further, the radio station is fully equipped to deal with any unwarranted publications.
We wish to remind the Government that Freedom of Expression is guaranteed by our Montserrat Constitution Order and is enunciated by the United Nations as a cornerstone of Democracy.
We view as concerning the embarrassment of the Host of the What’s On Your Mind Programme, as intended to shut him up and spoil his career so that ‘What’s On Your Mind’ dies. We call on all Montserratians to show support and care for Host, and the ZJB Staff and Management.
We the opposition of Montserrat will seek Judicial Review in our Courts and will appeal to London if necessary unless ‘What’s on Your Mind’ is returned to ZJB’s Airwaves without undue delay.
There is no greater interest than Freedom of Expression to be protected in Montserrat and indeed the world.