Year after year, Trinidad and Tobago maintains its good record in terms of freedom of the press, even though there is still room for improvement.
In Trinidad and Tobago, a parliamentary democracy with a vibrant media landscape and civil society, freedom of the press is a constitutionally guaranteed and widely respected right. Media pluralism is strong with multiple media outlets expressing a multitude of viewpoints, the main ones being the Trinidad Guardian, the oldest newspaper in the country created in 1917, and the Trinidad & Tobago Express, also known as the Daily Express.
There are numerous political parties in Trinidad and Tobago, and transfers of power are peaceful. Political participation is not subject to external pressure, but women are generally underrepresented in political positions. In 2022, some media professionals were denied access to a press briefing given by Prime Minister Keith Rowley, who stood by his decision, citing Trinidad and Tobago’s strong press freedom record. The Media Association of Trinidad and Tobago (MATT) called for the government to clarify its criteria for admitting journalists to press conferences.
Measures aiming to guarantee respect for journalists’ rights were bolstered in early 2021 thanks to a Supreme Court ruling that struck down the use of police search warrants to access the home and office of a journalist working for the Trinidad Express Newspaper. The Caribbean Broadcasting Union (CBU) welcomed the decision, which determined that the warrants that had been used to seize “tools of the journalist’s trade” were unlawful and unconstitutional.
In Trinidad and Tobago, the media operate on a private model, both in terms of organisation and advertising revenue.
With zero journalists imprisoned, killed or missing in 2021, Trinidad and Tobago provides a generally safe and protected environment for the profession.