The National Union of Journalists condemns personnel of the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology who attempted to prevent political prisoner Reina Mae Nasino from being interviewed by journalists who covered her court-permitted visit to the wake of her infant daughter River.
The incident, in which four of Ms. Nasino’s BJMP escorts surrounded her in an attempt to block her from being captured by cameras and clearly interviewed by reporters, is as abusive as it is illegal.
We will not comment on the propriety of the jail guards’ attempt to snatch Ms. Nasino away even before the time allowed her by the court had expired as soon as she had made her statement to media.
Ms. Nasino’s visit to her deceased daughter is clearly a matter of public interest as it is part of an issue that touches on some very basic human rights, particularly that of a mother deprived of the opportunity to nurture her child and, failing that, to comfort her and bid her goodbye in her final moments.
The BJMP personnel who trampled on the rights of both the news personnel covering the event and of Ms. Nasino, whose incarceration does not deprive her of the right to free expression were either ignorant of media’s role in a democracy or did not care, not surprising given how the head of state himself has shown nothing but contempt for a free and critical press.
We demand an immediate and transparent investigation into this incident and for sanctions to be leveled against both the unit commander who either ordered or failed to prevent this gross violation of civil rights and the personnel who obeyed, willingly or not, a clearly illegal order.
National Directorate