Free press indispensable for protecting human rights – Ali
…Govt’s commitment remains “steadfast and unwavering” – McCoy
…points to Guyana’s gains on World Press Freedom Index
Today marks World Press Freedom Day, with President Dr Irfaan Ali using the occasion to salute the work done by media professionals while underscoring how important they are to the country and to the very human rights of citizens.
In his World Press Freedom Day message, President Ali also reaffirmed his People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government’s commitment to a free press, while also reiterating his Administration’s intolerance for any acts of intimidation or attacks on members of the media.
“As the theme of this year’s observance underscores, freedom of the press is an enabler of other human rights. The press has been and must continue to be a staunch defender of the right to life and liberty. The press acts as a watchdog against violations of freedom of conscience and the right to assembly, association and demonstration. A free press is therefore indispensable to protecting the human rights of citizens, including and especially the right to freedom of expression.”
“On World Press Freedom Day, I wish to reaffirm my Government’s and country’s commitment to respecting press freedom. I take this opportunity also to iterate my condemnation of any attempt to intimidate or attack members of the media. Such repressible conduct has no place in a democratic society and is to be denounced in the strongest manner, whenever and wherever such breaches occur.”
Underscoring the influence the media exerts on society, President Ali also noted that this influence must be tempered with responsibility. The responsibility to provide truthful, accurate and complete information and steer clear of misinformation, falsehoods, distortions and efforts to manipulate the masses.
“In the exercise of its core functions of education, enlightenment and entertainment, the media must demonstrate its commitment to human dignity by foremost upholding the truth and avoiding malicious actions aimed at bringing persons and entities into public disrepute,” President Ali said.
“The use of the media as a weapon to promulgate hatred and division and to defame and distort represents a betrayal of the national ethos, the ethical and professional codes of the Fourth Estate, and an affront to human dignity. On this World Press Freedom Day 2023, I extend best wishes to the media practitioners and media houses.”
World Press Freedom Index
Meanwhile, Minister within the Office of Prime Minister, Kwame McCoy also had a message for the media on World Press Freedom Day. In an accompanying statement, McCoy spoke of the important role the media plays during Guyana’s transformative socio-economic journey.
“Successive PPP/C Governments have consistently regarded the free press in high esteem, seeking always to partner in the building of fundamental capacities to steadily improve, creating opportunities for professional industry training and academic growth, and building an enabling environment that safeguards the sanctity, security, freedoms and access of the media, in consonance with broader freedoms and rights enjoyed by every citizen under the Constitution,” he said.
“Further, successive PPP/C administrations have ratified and enforced international conventions and subscribed to global platforms and fora that promote and advocate in the interest of the fraternity. As recently as 2021, our Government ratified the Media Freedom Coalition which focusses heavily on the safety and protection of journalists and other media workers.”
According to McCoy, the PPP/C Government’s commitment to press freedom remains “steadfast and unwavering” and is considered by them as the cornerstone of responsible governance and citizenship. He also pointed to Guyana’s improvement on the World Press Freedom Index.
“In 2022, after convening one of the largest assembly of media practitioners and other stakeholders in a national conference and symposium, Guyana’s ranking on the World Press Freedom Index improved 17 places to number 34 among 180 countries. I am proud to be associated with this stellar record of steady progress towards the most ideal symbiotic environment possible,” McCoy said.
“As with every society and socio-political nexus however, both Government and the media have weaknesses and unforced errors to constantly contend with within the national growth paradigm, and must separately and collectively strive to achieve as much convergence as possible, as indefatigably as possible.”
Last year, the Department of Public Affairs had organised a national conference and symposium to commemorate the UNESCO-designated World Press Freedom Day between May 3, and May 4, 2022, at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Liliendaal, Greater Georgetown.
The event, which was held under the international theme “Journalism Under Surveillance” and Guyana’s national sub-theme: “Partnerships in Communication for Development (C4D)”, had featured an address by President Dr Irfaan Ali. There were also several panel discussions featuring leading local and visiting industry practitioners and experts during the symposium. (G3)