The Media Association condemns in the strongest possible terms the police raid on the newsroom of CCN TV6

on Thursday. The action by the police can be construed as an attempt to intimidate and harass a media house that, from all reports, had been co-operating fully with their investigation. We are satisfied that, in this instance, the tape of the Crime Watch programme which aired on TV6 would have been handed over to the police if they had simply asked for it. The association believes that sending over two dozen officers to search the station and â lock downâ the media house was overkill. The association is also concerned that members of the Judiciary should see fit to authorise search warrants for media premises with no apparent regard for the consequent potential infringement on the freedom of the press, which is guaranteed under the Constitution. Such incursions into media houses may be used as a pretext for unearthing information about sources or other material that journalists are likely to have in their possession. Police searches of media premises therefore have the potential to erode public trust in the media, undermine the protection of sources and vaporise the confidentiality which governs their work. Judicial officers need to be satisfied that there is a compelling need and that no other options are available before issuing warrants to search media premises. In some other jurisdictions, it is prohibited to issue warrants to search media houses or seize property from them. By their nature, search warrants are tools that can be used, with chilling effect, to disrupt the work of the media as news gatherers and news disseminators and to threaten and intimidate journalists. Against this backdrop, the association is also troubled by the new Data Protection Act, which gives the state authority to execute similar police-led searches of media premises. The association calls on the Attorney General to bring amendments to the Data Protection Act to provide for exemptions for the media, as is the case in other jurisdictions. Matt executive

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