There is a limit to the things anyone should attempt to do to another, and one of these things has to do with wielding power over another. For this reason, the thinkers of this world have devised a document called the Constitution, to safeguard the rights of those who have been placed in a position to be led by those who have by one way or another, assumed power over their compatriots.
In the wider world there are powerful nations that use their power, be it economic or military, to impose their will on others. To limit the extent to which these countries can impose their will countries have conspired to create organizations with powers. One such is the World Court; another is the United Nations.
In our corner of the world there is the Caribbean Court of Justice. And in each country there are courts that rule on issues.
Perhaps at the basic level there is an issue that demands some resolution. Office of the President is insisting that people attending press conferences hosted there must be affixed with a pass issued by the state through the Government Information Agency.
This action is seen by some as the Office of the President determining who are considered reporters and therefore qualified to question anyone hosting press conferences being held there. The Guyana Press Association, which is the recognized body to accredit reporters, feels that this is an abuse of power and a measure designed to usurp the power of the legitimate media organization.
This issue first raised its ugly head when a member of staff of the Office of the President, as if to test his power, instructed the security that only people bearing the government-issued media passes should be allowed to enter the compound.
There is nothing wrong with the Office of the President or any Government institution requesting a special pass. This happens all over the world and is seen as a security measure. But when that pass could be obtained by just about anyone, then one must question its value.
There have been comments about this pass being one of the ways for the government to keep check on who enters such facilities. However, practising journalists have seen people with them and have had cause to question these bearers about their affiliation to any media organization.
Word is that private photographers with no media affiliation have been issued with these passes. The government spokesmen have said that once the bearer is supported by a letterhead from an organization then he would be issued.
We have seen policemen and soldiers with these passes; we have seen ordinary people using these passes to enter public entertainment functions merely because they want to get in free. But the Office of the President keeps insisting on media people being in possession of these passes.
What is amazing is that the wider Caribbean does not recognize these passes. The pass that could open doors throughout the Caribbean is the one issued by the Guyana Press Association. However, this GPA pass is not being recognized by Office of the President and one is forced to conclude that something is afoot to frustrate this body.
Attempts by the Guyana Press Association have not escaped notice. The powers that be at Office of the President seem keen on refusing to meet with the Guyana Press Association. It is as if people are bent on carving out their area of power. There is nothing wrong with this, but when it jeopardizes the work of others, particularly, when it exposes reporters to abuse from government officials about not being privy to information, then one must wonder whether this is not an attempt to help foster a dictatorship by engendering fear among young reporters.
The government is aware that every media house wants to report accurately on government issues and to question Government officials on those areas that need clarification.
The conclusion is that the government prefers not to answer questions and the only way to guarantee this is to restrict opportunities to those reporters inclined to ask searching questions.
Where do we go from here? The answer is for the powers that be, and not those trying to appear to be powerful, to recognize the role of the press and to acknowledge those who are known to try to present the truth to the wider society. Accept the bona fide means of identification rather than trying to promote that which is not.
Nov 21, 2019By Zaheer Mohamed Half centuries by Veda Krishnamurty and Jemimah Rodrigues along with some steady bowling handed India Women a 61-run victory against the West Indies Women in the final T20...
One of the intriguing dimensions in the dialogue to renew the Cummingsburg Accord, is that both entities have declined to... more
Editor’s Note, If your sent letter was not published and you felt its contents were valid and devoid of libel or personal attacks, please contact us by phone or email.
Feel free to send us your comments and/or criticisms.
Contact: 624-6456; 225-8452; 225-8458; 225-8463; 225-8465; 225-8473 or 225-8491.
Or by Email: glennlall20[email protected] / [email protected]