Controversial Chronicle editorial … Edghill accuses press of spreading misinformation on his stance
“It is a strong opinion that probably should not have been published…but in terms of what constitutes a crime under the Racial Hostility Act…I do not conclude that it constitutes a crime…” – Edghill
Junior Finance Minister Juan Edghill yesterday accused the media of spreading misinformation regarding his comments on the recent controversial editorial that was published in the Guyana Chronicle.
And he restated his opinion that while he believes that the editorial could be considered “inflammatory”, and contains “strong opinion that probably should not have been published,” he does not believe that the editorial constituted a crime under the Racial Hostility Act.
Edghill told Kaieteur News that when he made the comments, he was responding to a question which was posed to him by Demerara Waves about the editorial.
He said that the question was based on a specific paragraph. According to him he was asked “if the article constituted a criminal offense under the racial hostility act.”
Edghill said that based on the paragraph which was read to him and his experience and opinion as former Chairman of the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC), the article did not represent a crime.
“The misinformation that has been in the press about my comments had to do with a specific paragraph that was read to me and the question was asked if the paragraph could constitute a crime under the racial hostility act and I said it is strong language; probably language that I would not have used but it does not constitute a crime under the Racial Hostility Act.
“What you are talking about is a reporting of speech and at the same time you are not inciting action against any particular group.
“It is a strong opinion that probably should not have been published. But in terms of what constitutes a crime under the Racial Hostility Act, in my considered opinion, serving on the Ethnic Relations Commission for eight years and based on the tools we would have used to judge such matters, I do not conclude that it constitutes a crime.”
“It may be bad in taste, maybe offensive, maybe hurt a lot of people and those apologies and statements have been made but remember that I was asked specifically whether the article constitutes a breach under the Racial Hostility Act. I read the whole article I think sufficiently enough has been said about it, I think the question we would have had said about it; I think the question that should be asked is what was the purpose of the article; was it contributing towards national unity; was it contributing towards social cohesion? If those answers are no, then it should not have been published; it could be considered inflammatory.”
Deeming it to be racist in content, political figures and social activists have voiced their disapproval of the editorial which was published in the state owned newspaper on July 3.
On Wednesday last, social activists took their exercise in front the Finance Ministry since according to them, Junior Finance Minister Edghill had indicated that the article was factual while there was no evidence to prove this.
The article accused the opposition “of socializing” African Guyanese youths to think that “Indians have robbed them so they feel that they have to wrest by force, even murder anything Indians have.”
The Chronicle has since published an apology by Keith Burrowes, Chairman of the Board of Directors.
Reports are that freelance journalist Parvati Persaud-Edwards, who penned the editorial, was relieved of her duties while the editor at the time, Rashid Osman, has been suspended.
But according at a source, the decision against Persaud was rescinded and she still writes for the Chronicle.