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Journalists Need Passport To Be Accredited For UN-WTO (Tourism Conference) … Why?

Breaking Jamaican News

Photo: Hopeton O'Connor-Dennie - poet, and Senior International correspondent & Photojournalist for Vision Newspaper.


The directive from the Jamaica Information Service (JIS) that applicants for accreditation to cover the upcoming World Tourism Conference is interesting to say the least. Many persons do not have a passport nor have no immediate plan to travel or are not financially in a position to apply for a passport.  Many persons apply for a passport to use same for identification purposes.  Someone who has other means of identification like a driver’s license would mean there is no need to obtain a passport which is not immediately needed. A voter ID card is an accepted form of identification in Jamaica. Why apply for a passport not immediately required?

Expiry Date

A passport has an expiry date.  To apply for a passport which may not be used and could expire before every been used is a waste of valuable resources.

What does having a passport have to do with accreditation to cover a conference?

When did a passport become a security device?

Anyone can apply and get a passport.  There are very few reasons why someone would be denied a passport.  Fraud would be one such ground for ineligibility to be issued a passport.

Need For Security

With world and high level industry leaders assembled in one place in Montego Bay which does not have the best record for personal security, one can see the need to beef up or ensure robust security. However, we should not attempt to throw the baby out with the bath water. To ask journalists to have a passport to be accredited is in our perspective is an overreach. A totally unnecessary demand, in our view. Obsession with security appears to have gone to some peoples’ heads. What a pity!

Terrorist

A terrorist or potential terrorist could easily obtain a passport legally. In our perspective this requirement to have a passport for accreditation as a journalist to cover a conference, even if Jesus Christ will be attending appears to an overreach, if not an uncalled for requirement.

First World

Could this have happened in USA or Canada?  We think not.  First World countries are very sensitive to demands made on their citizens, especially journalists. Journalists are see as a Special set of individuals, who are not seen as above the law, but are treated as important partners in securing our freedom.  Democracy is enhanced by an alert media.  They (the media) should not be unnecessarily antagonized. As a journalist in Canada, I was treated with a lot of respect. Enough said.

Let us not throw the baby out with the bath water.

Are journalists seen as an hindrance and a help in sving societal ills?

Hopeton O’Connor-Dennie is senior international correspondent & Photojournalist for Vision Newspaper

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