The Guyana Press Association (GPA) has publicly called on Attorney General (AG) Basil Williams to withdraw his comments and apologise for what it said was a “callous attack” on Stabroek News.
In a statement, the GPA recalled that on February 28th, in a letter hand-delivered to Williams, and copied to President David Granger, Prime Minister Moses Nagamootoo and Minister of State, Joseph Harmon, it called on the AG to retract a statement issued by his office dated February 27th, 2019.
The statement recalled that in a release from the AG’s office, the newspaper was referred to as “the garbage disposal bin for the PPP”, that the newspaper is “cavorting in bed with the PPP” along with the words “lies” and “fake news”.
“The GPA is now forced to publicly called on the Attorney General to apologise since the letters were met with merely an acknowledgement from one Government official,” the GPA’s statement said.
“The GPA cannot accept mere acknowledgements at this time in the face of blatant attacks on the media. We also view the continued silence from the Government as an act of complicity in this matter,” it added.
The statement said that for too long, politicians have been allowed to publicly attack media houses and individual media workers without stinging repercussions being applied. Just recently, the GPA had cause to call out Leader of the Opposition Bharrat Jagdeo for his continued attacks on the media, the statement said.
“We feel that the Attorney General’s statements are no different from the Leader of the Opposition, and for this, we hold the Attorney General and his office accountable for the unacceptable language,” it added.
The media workers body said that it holds the safety of its media houses as paramount and will waste no time in calling for members and media workers to boycott all press related events held by the AG if he does not apologise.
“The GPA feels that there are proven and respectful mechanisms to challenge statements and stories carried in the media. The Attorney General, as well as Government ministers, know that they can challenge any issue they have with the media and media houses differently and (respectfully) and we urge them to do so,” the statement said.
The GPA also reminded those on both sides of the political divide that a free press, whose work is done without hindrance and attacks, is among the basic tenets of democracy. “Any deviation from this principle will not be tolerated,” it declared.