PM: Vloggers visit places for their own benefit

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Canadian YouTuber Christopher “Chris Must List” Hughes. – Photo courtesy Christopher Hughes’ Instagram page

The Prime Minister said people who visit countries and document the darker sides of those countries do it for their own benefit, not for the benefit of the places they visit.

Dr Rowley made the statement while responding to questions at a post-cabinet media briefing held at the Diplomatic Centre in Port of Spain on Thursday.

“It is something that people have an interest in. And once people have an interest in it and you are technologically able to supply that interest and feed that interest, this is the kind of thing that would happen,” Rowley said.

“Unfortunately, it doesn’t present us… it doesn’t show our better side. But in our population, like in other populations, we have some people who are engaged in activities that do not make us proud and even threaten our own safety and security.

“The people who are doing that (documenting criminal activity in foreign countries) they are not doing it because they want to help us or they like us, they are doing it because it works for them. They get likes, and the more ridiculous, the more violent, the more shocking, the better for them.”

Recently, one such vlogger was arrested by police and charged with sedition.

Christopher “Chris Must List” Hughes was arrested on May 29, after three weeks of filming different aspects of local culture and lifestyle including gang culture.

He first appeared before acting Chief Magistrate Christine Charles on June 13 to face the charge. The case will come up for a case-management hearing on August 23.

Hughes told Newsday he uploaded 24 full, edited videos on life in TT. Some of the videos have since gone viral.

Although he didn’t mention Hughes directly, Rowley said he was not surprised at the fact that vloggers would come into the country, because, for the most part, our country is open to everyone.

“We are an open society, open to nationals and open to foreigners, Canadians, people from the US… if it wasn’t him (no name called) then it would have been someone else.”

Rowley also said that the reason vloggers would have better access to criminals for their videos, was because criminals made themselves available to the vloggers.

“They don’t make themselves available to the police.”

Rowley added that even if videos showing gang activity did provide information to police, they would still have to follow the rule of law.

“You have to step very carefully. Information is not evidence. In the absence of evidence, you can’t arrest people, and if you arrest people you have rights that you have to expect and so on.”

“I don’t think the country should be embarrassed or ashamed about it. I don’t think we should try to fight anybody over it. What we should do is try to learn from it and learn of it, and ensure that our security people find these miscreants, whoever they are, because they are threatening all of us.