The operation of the media in Guyana has been greatly impacted by the current prolonged political climate and situation since the passage of the No-Confidence Motion in December 2018.
Over the years, and on many occasions, it has been reported that threats have been made to media houses with the aim of silencing those entities from performing their duties as the fourth estate of democratic Government.
Guyana Times, along with its sister entity Television Guyana (TVG-CH 28), producer of the Evening News, has received a number of threats from persons in the past, who claimed to be agents of the Government, to stop publishing news items which are critical of the Administration.
Those persons have threatened that, should this newspaper continue to pursue articles which are critical of the Government, its owners, management and affiliate companies would face dire consequences.
On Friday, a Guyana Times/Evening News cameraman who was assigned to provide coverage of the national elections’ recount at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre was posted on the official APNU/AFC Facebook page with the label: “PPP/C sends cameraman to stake out APNU/AFC.”
This comes mere hours after media workers who were housed under a tent in front of the Conference Centre were literally chased and insulted by persons wearing APNU/AFC shirts at the National Aquatic Centre.
What are these persons doing at the National Aquatic Centre in the first place?
Since the March 2, 2020 General and Regional Elections — as was rightly said by the Guyana Press Association on World Press Freedom Day on Sunday — media workers have had to contend with various levels of threats and violence during their coverage of elections, with party supporters hurling offensive remarks and, in some cases, attempting to get into physical altercations with journalists and their support media staff.
This latest attack on our Guyana Times/Evening News staff is candidly aimed at threatening our cameraman, and may not only spawn and incite violence against him, but is a violation of the Laws of Guyana.
Freedom of the press is protected by Article 19 of the United Nations Declaration. This article is explicit in its protection of freedoms, but, more significantly, stipulates that “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference, and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”
This is not the first time that this media house has been threatened by the APNU/AFC Government for its coverage of the news. Several lawsuits have been filed against this newspaper by a number of Ministers, some of which are still outstanding. Last year, there was a drastic cut in ads from the Government Ministries and agencies by the Department of Public Information, in addition to an even more drastic reduction in payments for outstanding bills.
As has been stated on numerous occasions: as an independent media house, <<Guyana Times>> has striven to express the views of all Guyanese, irrespective of religion, race, creed, or political background. This media house has, over the past 10 years, stood firmly as a watchdog of our democracy and against Government excesses.
Only on Sunday, World Press Freedom Day was observed under the theme, “Journalism without Fear or Favour”. This theme is apt, as Guyana Times can assure our readers and public that we will not be intimidated, and will continue to report and cover the news fairly and fearlessly as it unfolds. The journey of media workers to gather and compile the news is not easy.