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TATT warns TV6 on rape video

By Newsday Staff Tuesday, November 1 2011

The Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) has written to Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard asking him to investigate whether the video clip depicting the rape of a 13-year-old girl shown on CCN TV6’s Crime Watch was in breach of the Sexual Offences Act.

In a statement yesterday, TATT said they sent a warning letter to CCN TV6 expressing concern about the video clip of the rape as well as the airing of footage of a woman who was killed and dismembered in a recent accident.

The authority was of the view that the station demonstrated a lack of good judgement, particularly taking into consideration that the video of the rape was broadcast twice before 7 pm when children would most likely be viewing television.

The show’s host Ian Alleyne yesterday apologised during the programme and took full responsibility for the airing of the footage of the rape.

TATT reminded CCN TV6 of the terms and conditions of its licence which states that the concessionaire “shall not broadcast programme, information or other material which endangers the security of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, violates any law, is of a defamatory nature, is subversive to peace or public order or is otherwise contrary to the laws of Trinidad and Tobago.”

TATT also said that the disclosure of the identity of victims of sexual offences is against the law.

The authority’s letter to CCN TV6 cited section 32 of the Sexual Offences Act which states: “Before or after a person is accused of an offence under this Act, no matter likely to lead members of the public to identify a person as the complainant in relation to that accusation shall either be published in Trinidad and Tobago in a written publication available to the public or be broadcast in Trinidad and Tobago.”

It also stated that any person who publishes or broadcasts any matter contrary to subsection (1) is guilty of an offence and liable on summary conviction to a fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for five years.

The authority advised CCN TV6 that a criminal offence may have been committed.

They also pointed out that the action of CCN TV6 was further compounded when the Statement of Principles and Editorial Guidelines from One Caribbean Media’s (parent company of CCN TV6) appeared to have been breached.

The letter to the television station also stated that apart from the current complaint, they advise that over the past few months several complaints have been received regarding the Crime Watch programme.

The authority also warned CCN TV6 that the desire to achieve high TV ratings should not be done at the expense of the rights of the individual and not at the expense of the rights of the child. TATT also said it would continue to investigate the matter and sent a copy to the DPP for action. Gaspard is expected to review the complaint today. Several organisations have called for something to be done since the airing of the rape footage.

The Coalition Against Domestic Violence (CADV) yesterday added its voice to the growing number of organisations which have condemned the broadcasting, at prime time, of videos showing the face of a child while she was being raped.

“We have waited to hear of any action being taken in relation to this cruel travesty being visited on a mentality disabled child, but to date there has been none,” Diana Mahabir- Wyatt, chairperson of the CADV said in a release.

Mahabir-Wyatt noted since the child was 13-years-old, there were “serious” legal issues involved.

“Section 32 of the Sexual Offences Act (as amended by Act 31 of 2000 dealing with the anonymity of complainant and accused), prohibits the broadcasting of an offence under the Sexual Offences Act, without the expressed permission of the court, and can impose a fine of $25,000 or imprisonment for five years on the corporation responsible for the broadcast and any persons having functions in relation to the programme corresponding to those of an editor of a newspaper,” Mahabir-Wyatt explained. She went on to say the culture of Trinidad and Tobago was one which would “mock, deride and punish the victim of rape.” Therefore, if the presenter of the programme “did not know any better”, there are editors and producers of the programme who are in charge of the programme.

Mahabir-Wyatt questioned whether action would be taken against the presenter or the media house. She said if action was not taken, it would be another case “in our deteriorating society, of irresponsible persons being allowed to remain unaccountable for what they have done.”

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