The Guyana Press Association is of the belief that the lines of power, authority and decision-making in the media are blurred by shared interests, goals and objectives.
The GPA is calling on editors and media managers to stand up against those in authority that seeks to impose restrictions on the freedom of expression.
“Readily coming to mind is the decision by the state-owned and government controlled Guyana Chronicle to discontinue the contributions by columnists Professor David Hinds and trade unionist, Lincoln Lewis,” the body said.
“Over the months we have had reports of government officials calling media houses to demand sources from reporters, to demand that media outlets refrain from providing coverage to other public officials and threatening to call the police to remove reporters from public meetings. These actions are not much different from the days when journalists were banned from the Office of the President or State House and media houses found their economic viability threatened over the withdrawals of state advertisement,” GPA noted.
The organization noted that this doesn’t serve the public any good, because the body that keep power in check are provided with half-truths.
“The endgame is the cultivation and perpetuation of a destructive media culture in which media operatives see themselves as serving their political masters or other self-serving entities instead of the wider public,” it noted via a statement.
The body also notes that independent media is necessary to guard against human rights abuses electoral malpractices, lack of transparency and accountability and gender-based inequalities.
“Our association takes this opportunity to publicly urge the Government of Guyana and the Opposition to discuss and arrive at a consensus to delete from the proposed Cybercrime legislation provisions that will amount to institutionalisation of criminal defamation. Those provisions, we contend, must be removed because they are not in accordance with the global shift towards the removal of criminal defamation from the law books of several countries including a number of them in the Caribbean. Guyana will be retrogressing instead of progressing by entrenching the criminalisation of freedom of expression if certain sections in the Cybercrime Bill are enacted into law,” GPA said.
World Press Freedom Day 2018 is observed under the theme, “Keeping Power in Check: Media, Justice and the Rule of Law”.