defamation case, environment, First Amendment Rights, First Amendment to the US Constitution, Florida, Fracking, Free Press in Danger, Free Speech, Free Speech in Danger, Freedom of Speech, Freedom of the Press, Gag orders, Haiti, haiti observateur, Haiti Prime Minister, Journalism in Danger, Laurent Lamothe, Leo Joseph, New York, Pennsylvania, politics
Haitian Prime Minister Lamothe Unable to Destroy US Freedom of Speech & Press: Learns that Florida is in the US and that He Cannot Intimidate and Censor US Journalists
“US judge backtracks in Haiti’s PM defamation case“
11/April/2013 by Jennifer Kay, Miami, AP.
“A federal judge in Florida is backtracking on a ruling that barred a Haitian-American journalist from writing about Haiti’s prime minister, who had sued the reporter for defamation.
U.S. District Judge Ursula Ungaro reversed course in a ruling Tuesday, lifting the prohibition. Ungaro also ordered Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe and South Florida businessman Patrice Baker to file an amended complaint detailing facts that support their allegations that Leo Joseph’s reporting was false or made with reckless disregard for the truth. The attorneys representing Lamothe and Baker did not immediately respond to messages left Thursday by The Associated Press. They have until April 19 to file the amended complaint.
On Tuesday, Ungaro wrote that the plaintiffs must provide evidence to support taking the extraordinary step of banning Joseph from ever again writing about Lamothe and Baker.
See full article at: http://www.radiotelevisioncaraibes.com/nouvelles/nouvellesdiaspora/us_judge_backtracks_in_haiti_s_pm_defamation_case.html
Case summary, official documents, plus current status of this still on-going case are found here: http://www.dmlp.org/threats/baker-v-haiti-observateur-group
Judge Ungaro appears to have learned under challenge by Freedom of the Press advocates that South Florida IS still in the US and hence subject to US law. What a novel idea to actually belatedly decide that the onus is on Lamothe and Baker to produce evidence that Leo Joseph is wrong and not vice versa. Duh. This should help deflate Lamothe, which is doing him a favor lest he pop like an over-inflated balloon. Doesn’t he know the French story of the frog who wanted to be as big as a cow and popped into a million pieces? Why do we talk about in-school bullying but not about what happens when bullies grow up and get positions of power and throw their weight around? If you have noticed that we do not like Lamothe, this is where it started! Can you imagine what would happen if US Presidents sued every tiny newspaper or online site who wrote something they didn’t like or even defamed them? They would do nothing else!
Intimidation and Threats Reported Against Journalists in Haiti
Bad enough journalists are intimidated in Haiti without Lamothe trying the same stunts in Florida. See the report by the University of San Francisco & IJDH (Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti):
“Freedom of the Press in Haiti: The Chilling Effect on Journalists Critical of the Government“, Sept 27 2012
“In the fifteen months since the inauguration of Haiti’s President Michel Martelly, who took office in May 2011 after controversial elections, journalists in Haiti have repeatedly complained of poor treatment by government officials. This report analyzes those complaints in light of the freedoms and protections that journalists enjoy under Haitian and international law.
The report findings include information gathered in interviews with Haitian and international journalists conducted in June 2012. Interviews documented two troublesome trends journalists encountered in Haiti.
The first trend was intimidation, threats, destruction of their media equipment, and retaliation by President Martelly and his administration against progressive journalists for critical reporting, which has created an atmosphere of fear and a chilling effect on journalists’ freedom of expression.
The second trend was ‘stonewalling’ wherein journalists critical of the government were consistently denied interviews with governmental officials and access to public information.
Both trends infringe on journalists’ rights under Haitian and international law to freedom of expression and access to public information. Haitian journalists producing investigative reports are especially targeted, often facing threats to their life, hindered access to information, blocked access to government departments and the national palace, defamation lawsuits with criminal sanctions, and license revocation, in addition meager salaries and lack of training opportunities. Together, these acts send a message to journalists and civil society engaged in investigating attacks, abuses, irregularities, or illicit acts that they may be threatened or retaliated against for their reporting.
It is important to note that conditions for journalists are vastly better now than under Haiti’s coup governments of 1991-1994 and 2004-2006, and under the Francois and Jean-Claude Duvalier dictatorship from 1957-1986………..”
Complete report here: http://ijdh.org/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/IJDH_FreedomOfExpression.pdf
Ok. Deep breaths. What else can be expected after repeated coups and tampering? And the related wealth and power of Haiti’s mostly Morally Repugnant Elites (MREs)…..As long as these folks love their money and power more than their own lives or anyone else’s lives, Haiti will never get a chance.
Or Then Again? Are Pennsylvania And New York in Haiti?
“New York Town Repeals Fracking Gag Order After Free Speech Lawsuit” http://www.nrdc.org/media/2013/130417.asp
New York (April 17, 2013) – “The Town Board of Sanford, NY, has repealed the gag order it passed last summer on discussing fracking at their meetings, following a First Amendment lawsuit filed in February by the Natural Resources Defense Council and Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy. As a result, the groups are dropping their Freedom of Speech lawsuit today.
Statements follow from NRDC and CCSE:
‘The people of Sanford will no longer be silenced. With this action, the Town Board has rightly recognized the validity of residents’ concerns about this controversial heavy industrial activity moving into their backyards, and the need for their local representatives to hear them. This is especially important in light of the board’s history of support for fracking. This is a vindication of the right to free speech. And it sends a message to communities everywhere. As Americans, we have the right to speak up when we feel threatened. And it is our government’s responsibility to listen.’ –Kate Sinding, Director of the Community Fracking Defense Project at NRDC.
‘We are gratified that Sanford dropped its unconstitutional ban on free speech. It’s unfortunate that it required litigation to re-establish this fundamental right for the citizens of Sanford, but by rescinding the ban now, the Town Board at least spared the taxpayers the expense of a protracted and costly lawsuit.’ –Tom Wilinsky of Catskill Citizens for Safe Energy.”
“No Free Speech in Fracking Country?” http://www.citypaper.net/blogs/nakedcity/No-free-speech-in-fracking-country.html
“Children Given Lifelong Ban on Talking About Fracking: Two Pennsylvanian children will live their lives under a gag order imposed under a $750,000 settlement”. By Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent. The Guardian, Monday 5 August 2013 18.04 BST
“The Hallowich family had earlier accused oil and gas companies of destroying their 10-acre farm in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania and putting their children’s health in danger. Their property was adjacent to major industrial operations: four gas wells, gas compressor stations, and a waste water pond, which the Hallowich family said contaminated their water supply and caused burning eyes, sore throats and headaches….. Gag orders – on adults – are typical in settlements reached between oil and gas operators and residents in the heart of shale gas boom in Pennsylvania… The family gag order was a condition of the settlement.” Read full article here: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2013/aug/05/children-ban-talking-about-fracking
We have seen this happen after developers trick people into selling their land. They get the land back, but cannot challenge the development, due to a gag order, meaning that they still effectively lose their land!
How Can Someone Sign Away Their Right to Free Speech? How Can Gag Orders Be Imposed? Can You Sign Away Your Right to Breathe? To Eat? To Drink? Can You Sign Away The Rights of Your Children Or The Rights Of Future Generations? How can a Human Right Like Free Speech Be Signed Away? This Whole Concept of Gag Orders Needs Challenging in the Highest Courts!