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Ministry of Foreign Affairs says Channel 7 reporter “blatantly ignored rules”

Posted: Tuesday, March 1, 2022. 5:57 pm CST.

By Aaron Humes: The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade & Immigration this evening issued a formal response regarding this morning’s events in San Pedro.

In brief, it says claims that Channel 7 as a media house and its reporter were discriminated against and muzzled in covering the Meeting of the Conference of the Heads of Government are “false” and accuses them of trying “to play victim and cry foul with extreme sensationalism. In Belize, as in every region of the world, there are rules and protocols which govern meetings of this type. Regrettably, Channel 7 chose to blatantly ignore the rules and use freedom of the press as justification.”

In terms of the details, the Ministry reminded that each media house was briefed as to the rules applied as provided by the CARICOM Secretariat and that because of the heightened security due to the nature of the summit and the presence of regional leaders, there would be areas of access at the conference site and areas without such access.

The Ministry paints reporter Cherisse Halsall as causing trouble from the moment she arrived on Ambergris Caye, going into a no-access area after being informed of the conditions regarding access on her arrival at the media room and asking to leave to “clear her head.” Further, it alleges, she had falsely claimed to have permission to be there from the CARICOM Secretariat which she did not, and threatened to “cause a scene” if removed and became verbally abusive to security personnel including the head of the Belize Defence Force detail. Nonetheless, they were allowed to record dignitaries’ arrivals.

Concerning today’s incident, the Ministry states that Halsall arrived at the breakfast area which, they say, “she knew was a no-access zone” for the media and where officials were holding bilateral meetings during breakfast around the swimming pool. Other local and regional media personnel were informed that they could not conduct interviews in the area and left without incident. However, according to the Ministry, Halsall alone refused to leave and repeated her actions of the previous day and was removed, although Channel 7 was allowed to tape with full access the opening session as did other media houses.

Moving forward, the Ministry says Channel 7 will not be denied access during the meeting, the same as other local and regional media houses and no exceptions, and that other media are present and would not be denied access except in specific times and areas, according to the rules and protocols which govern meetings of this type.

 

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