Backlash Against Hot off the Press Grows: Legal Community Calls for Investigation into Alleged Intimidation Tactics
On Friday evening, we told you of the nightclub footage uploaded to Hot off the Press social media page. In that publication, the so-called news blog sought to discredit two women who are claiming that they were raped by a well-known Belize City lawyer. Since then, the court of public opinion has come down on Hot off the Press, referring to its post as being vile, unprofessional and unacceptable. One highly respected attorney, and former Justice of the High Court, also noted “IF the accused Attorney (with a capital A) is complicit in this social media post- then the DPP and Commissioner of Police need to be concerned that the accused may be attempting to interfere in the matter by using this alleged “media house” to intimidate the complainants.” She further noted that, “it would be a further matter to investigate: both the accused and that alleged “media house”. Two other attorneys, specifically, the Minister of Home Affairs, Kareem Musa; and the Deputy Police Commissioner, Bart Jones, spoke on the need for stricter standards. Musa noted that he does not look at Hot off the Press as a legitimate news media. He additionally stated that the Belize Broadcasting Authority need to step up, and get serious with those media and news outlets that are not legit.
Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “I don’t want to acknowledge Hot Off the Press as a legitimate media house and I’m sure that other media houses can look to this particular social media media house as carrying out very despicable actions by showing imagery and video footage from the nightclub that night that really did not go to prove anything at all and then to add further insult to injury to make a commentary about how that in some way exonerates the individual I just find it to be down right unacceptable and despicable.”
Reporter: How frustrating is it that this media outlet if we could call it such is trying to go to such lengths to maybe undermine the victims in this case ?
Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “Yeah I had a discussion just now over at National Security Council about establishing regulations for the media. There has to be some control because we know every single day a new media outlet pops up online with no sort of accountability or transparency to see who are the actors behind these websites, behind these social media pages and we don’t know whether these are legitimate media houses and so there has to be some action taken by the Belize Broadcasting Authority to put in place legislation and regulations to ensure that we can get rid of these types of social media pages that are using it like you rightly pointed out for the totally wrong purposes undermining the police work and also trying to further the personal agenda of one individual.”
Ironically, while Minister Musa indicated that there has to be a way to identify the principals behind these news outlets, it was this very same administration that passed legislation in 2022 that prohibits the media, and the public, from accessing the names of business or company owners and shareholders. Prior to the launch of the Online Business Registry Services, members of the public were able to research and find the names of company shareholders, and their stocks.