Pubdate: Mon, 09 Feb 2009
Source: Voice, The (UK)
Contact: http://www.voice-online.co.uk/feedback.php
Copyright: 2009 GV Media Group Ltd
Website: http://www.voice-online.co.uk/
Details: http://www.mapinc.org/media/4986
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STORM OVER THE SUN'S 'JAMAICA DRUGGIES' SLUR

High Commissioner Says Article Is An 'Insult To All Jamaicans'

A SUN newspaper story that branded Jamaica a 'druggies paradise', has
caused outrage among the UK's Jamaican community.

The article about Amy Winehouse flying to Jamaica to record her new album
claimed that the singer, who has a well publicised drug problem, would be
going to an 'isle of druggies'.

The story further insulted the strongly Christian Caribbean island by
saying it was 'awash with drugs like crack cocaine and cannabis'. Among
those left fuming by the article was Elizabeth Fox, from the Jamaica
Tourist Board based in London. "It is a shame that The Sun sticks to such
cliched stereotypes when Jamaica has so much more to offer," she said.

The Jamaican High Commissioner to the UK, Burchell Whiteman, said the
article was an 'insult' and 'seriously defamed all responsible Jamaicans
and persons of Jamaican heritage living and working in the UK.'

Complaint

In a letter of complaint to The Sun's editor, Mr Whiteman wrote: 'contrary
to your report, and as observed by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office,
there are severe penalties for all drug offences, including those
involving ganja [marijuana]'. The Voice has been inundated with angry
calls, with some people even phoning from Jamaica to let us know how
annoyed they were over the slur.

One caller, Patricia Sappleton, was so outraged by the story that she also
took her concerns directly to the Sun.

Statistics

"When I called the Sun, they said that they had quite a few phone calls
regarding the situation already," she said.

"Jamaica is always given a bad name. I don't think it needs this negative
publicity right now."

Labour MP Dawn Butler, who is of Jamaican descent, was also angry at the
misrepresentation of Jamaica.

"If you look at the statistics from the UN World Drug report, Jamaica has
a lower level of drug abuse than the UK. On top of this, cannabis use, as
a percentage of the population, is higher in Spain and Italy than in
Jamaica, but we do not refer to these tourist spots as drug destinations.
It is unfair and offensive to refer to Jamaica as the 'isle of druggies,"
she said.

Even Sun readers were upset by the slur. One reader left this comment on
the Sun's website: 'To say that Jamaica is the isle of druggies is very
harsh and insulting! You can buy drugs in the UK as easy as buying a loaf
of bread. Just go to the right pub or club and you can buy drugs within 10
minutes. And after all, Amy did get hooked on drugs in this country!'

When The Voice contacted the Sun for comment, one of the journalists
responsible for the offensive article, Jess Rogers, said: "We have also
had complaints... the story is what it is". When asked if she thought that
Jamaica was an island of druggies, she replied: "I am not going to
comment, I'm afraid."
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MAP posted-by: Doug