… Public Freedom of Information forum
Moses Nagamootoo, who worked as a journalist during the days of the regime of Forbes Burnham, when his newspaper was denied newsprint, has described the fear in Guyana today as worse than the “Burnhamite days.”
Nagamootoo was among the speakers at a U.S. Embassy-sponsored public forum on Freedom of Information legislation. He said that what Guyana needs is a new wave of democracy.
Nagamootoo, a practising attorney, and Member of Parliament for the ruling People’s Progressive Party (PPP), said that he is seeing in Guyana “large doses of fear” by the media in reporting stories that could be deemed offensive to the administration. He said he is sensing in Guyana an “unease” that has never experienced before.
Nagamootoo, who also once served as Minister of Information, posited that while there are costs that would be associated with the government enacting and implementing Freedom of Information Legislation, it is a cost that is necessary and important for Guyana.
Executive member of the Guyana Press Association and Capitol News Editor-in-chief, Enrico Woolford, bemoaned the fact that the government is yet to table Freedom of Information legislation in Parliament despite President Bharrat Jagdeo’s statement in April that this was being drafted and would be tabled in two months.
It is now five months since Jagdeo made the statement at a press conference held on the hems of the Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago.
In early July, the President said that the Freedom of Information (FOI) legislation would likely be introduced in the National Assembly in October when Parliament comes out of recess.
Late last month, Jagdeo promised that there will be broadcast legislation by next year. Woolford posited that “freedom of information delayed is freedom of information denied.”
The public forum yesterday was one in a series of discussions on responsible journalism and principles of press freedom, with specific attention paid to the U.S. experience and it’s Freedom of Information Act.
The feature presentation was by US journalist Mr. Herb Frazier, whose experience ranged from covering health care and the criminal justice system, to numerous U.S. presidential elections.
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