GINA ads cut-off dangerous trend

The Association of Caribbean Media (ACM) has said that the withdrawal of advertisements from Stabroek News by the state information agency (GINA) sets a dangerous trend and appears to be a case of victimization on political grounds.

In a brief statement to Stabroek News, President of the ACM Dale Enoch said that the ACM Executive “expressed solidarity with the Stabroek News, the Guyana Press Association and by extension the media on the issue”.

Enoch said that the executive of the ACM discussed the issue yesterday and in an initial statement felt that that the withdrawal of the advertisements was “a dangerous trend that the government has set.” The executive was of the view that “the government should not be using state resources to victimize any individual, any group or any agency and certainly not the media.”

To the ACM, he said that the government’s actions look like “a case of victimization on political grounds.” As such, he said that the association would be taking a keen interest in the issue and the withdrawal of the ads would be on the agenda for discussion when the executive of the association meets next week in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago.

Meanwhile, the Publisher of the Evening News, Anthony Vieira has described the choking off of ads to Stabroek News as a “dangerous development and the continuation of the campaign against the independent press, which began during the 2006 elections campaign”.

In a commentary broadcast on Channel 28, Vieira called on all Guyanese to resist “this attempt to muzzle the press and demand that the government immediately withdraw its edict.”

Expressing alarm at government’s withdrawal of the advertisements, Vieira said that “President Bharrat Jagdeo is increasingly showing dictatorial tendencies without any regard for the rights of citizens to communicate and receive information without hindrance and in clear violation of the constitution and the Declaration of Chapultepec to which he, Jagdeo is a signatory.”

The ACM and Vieira have added their voices to the Guyana Human Rights Association, the Guyana Press Association and the France-based Reporters Without Borders which have condemned the Guyana Government’s action.

Representatives of the Barbados Nation and the Trinidad Express have also expressed concern at the development.

Meanwhile, Editor-in-Chief of the Stabroek News David de Caires has sent a copy of the release the newspaper issued on the withdrawal of advertisements to Caricom Secretary General Edwin Carrington.

De Caires drew Carrington’s attention to Article V of the Caricom Charter of Civil Society which provides for equality before the law. He is contending that the government is discriminating against Stabroek News because of its political opinions.

De Caires also referred to Article XXV and sought to find out if Guyana has established a national committee as required under the charter so that he could forward his complaint to it. (See other story on page 12.)

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