Minister Kareem Musa comments on Belize’s Press Freedom Ranking

Minister Kareem Musa comments on Belize’s Press Freedom Ranking

Today is World Press Freedom Day and the University of Belize has partnered with the Belize Prize for Investigative Journalism (BPIJ) to reinforce the media’s important role. The university and prize founder, Holly Edgell, signed a Memorandum of Understanding for UB to become the official host of the BPIJ, while Edgell retains operational and administrative management of the prize. Edgell says “World Press Freedom Day is a reminder for Belizeans to respect our collective commitment to press freedom.” However, while today saw a step in the right direction for journalism, the country still has some work to do. The Reporters Without Borders (RSF) has ranked Belize at 51 out of 180 countries as it relates to freedom of the press.  Belize gained 66.85 points and has improved its ranking from last year when Belize was ranked at 54.  The report indicated that media professionals in Belize have felt that there is a lack of transparency from the government, despite the use of technology in transmitting information. The US Department of State also recently noted that while the government does not directly censor media outlets, anecdotal accounts indicated some media outlets practiced self-censorship to appease certain politicians and powerful businesspersons. Today, Minister of Home Affairs Kareem Musa was asked to comment on Belize’s rank and stated that he believes Belizean media is not suppressed. 

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “I think we have enjoyed an immense level of freedom of the press in Belize. I would of course want to see even higher on that list but at the end of the day our accessibility as ministers, your ability to spin stories in whichever way you wish without being censored at all speaks volumes about our country’s respect for the press and like I said hopefully we can only go higher on that list.”

Reporter: Do you concede to what the US government says ? 

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “I believe it’s a compliment, that they’re complimenting us.”

Reporter: In saying that media houses practice self censorship to appease certain politicians ? 

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “You should ask certain members of the media not me. I don’t know whether your media practices that you’d have to ask the various media houses and their directors if they do.”

Reporter: Was it something that maybe you had noticed when you were in opposition ? 

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “Absolutely not. I find that every single media house in this country is critical of whichever government is in office and so I think there is no party affiliation. I think maybe in the 90s you could have said certain media houses like Channel 7 were aligned with the UDP but at the end of the day I found them to be very critical of the Barrow administration towards the end but at the end of the day I find everybody to give a very balance I might not agree with certain spins but that is the lay of the land.”

Musa denied his government ever suppressing the media and stated that he believes members of the Briceno Administration have made themselves accessible to the media. 

Kareem Musa, Minister of Home Affairs: “I believe so. I would say so. I think I’m fairly accessible as a minister. I think I see myself too much on your newscast and if you could decrease.”

According to the 2024 World Press Freedom Index, more than half the countries in the Americas region have seen their situation deteriorate, particularly due to the fall in the political indicator.

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