The International Press Institute (IPI) today expressed concern over reports of an escalation in online harassment of journalists in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of elections scheduled later this year.

One Caribbean Media reported that a number of their journalists, many of them investigative reporters, and particularly female reporters, have been the subject of character attacks posted online that they say they believe is designed to undermine their credibility and intimidate journalists ahead of general elections in September.

The media outlet said that the posts were orchestrated by a network of bloggers who openly support the government, many of whom are operating under fake identities.

It specifically cited the posting of a video depicting a journalist and her family created from photos taken from her mobile phone, which was stolen. The video was first posted in 2013 and One Caribbean Media said authorities had failed to take any action to investigate the matter.

IPI Director of Advocacy and Communications Steven M. Ellis called on authorities to fully investigate that case and the others.

“As elections approach, it is extremely important that journalists be allowed to do their jobs and we urge authorities to ensure that those who harass or intimidate journalists be held accountable,” he said. “Efforts to silence the media victimise not only the journalists targeted, but also citizens’ right to have the information they need to make informed decisions about their future.”