– “The region waits to hear him make clear his total repudiation of violent attacks, threatened or planned, against Kaieteur News.”
The Trinidad Express Newspaper (TEN) is calling on Guyana’s President, Donald Ramotar, “to make clear his total repudiation of violent attacks, threatened or planned,” against Kaieteur News.
The newspaper was referring to Attorney General Anil Nandlall’s profanity-laced recording in which he warned of imminent attacks against staff of this newspaper.
In an editorial piece, “Perilous times for Guyana free press,” the Trinidad Express said that President Donald Ramotar should take actions beyond condemning the recording.
“The region waits to hear him make clear his total repudiation of violent attacks, threatened or planned, against Kaieteur News”.
The Trinidad Express reflected that once again, the relationship between the private media in Guyana and the current administration has probably sunk to its lowest and once again, “regional voices must be raised to register concern about the persistence of entrenched negative predispositions in official quarters against the free and independent media in Guyana.”
The editorial provided the opinion that in line with a policy tradition common to both parties which have formed the government, print and broadcast entities owned, operated and controlled by the State have continued to be fixtures of the media landscape.
It said that it is against this backdrop that “Guyanese private interests have invested in making real and vibrant a diversity of media voices, giving effect to freedom of expression guaranteed by the constitution of the republic and related international conventions.”
It said too that the ruling administration has not hesitated to utilise State media in advancing its political “line” and policy emphases, and alternately to reply to criticism. It noted that the operations of privately owned media legitimately to challenge official pronouncements, to question and to investigate have proved to be risky and costly.
The editorial also made reference to one of the privately owned media entities, Stabroek News, which it said “suffered extended state advertising boycotts as punishment for publication of news and opinion deemed unfavorable to the Government.” Stabroek News, it said, “having heroically come into existence amid the harsher scorched-earth policies against private media enforced by the former Forbes Burham regime, bounced back.”
The Trinidadian publication asserted that the government placed its ads with the other privately owned daily – Kaieteur News – justifying the decision on alleged economic grounds.
TEN added, “Now, it’s the turn of Kaieteur News, to be targeted with rhetorical and other attacks by the government. Publisher Glenn Lall has been facing prosecution on tax-related charges. Such matters should duly and properly be settled before the Guyana courts.”
But meanwhile, Mr Lall and his newspaper have found reason to believe “in the existence of no-holds-barred hostility in government circles, especially connected with the Attorney General.
“Kaieteur News took the extraordinary step of releasing the recording of a private conversation between a Kaieteur News reporter and the Guyana Attorney General (AG).”
The Express noted that in the recording, AG Nandlall was heard issuing terrible warnings of what sounded like impending physical retaliation against the newspaper. It said that the AG also urged the reporter, Leonard Gildharie, to leave the publication ahead of such attacks.
The editorial also sought to contextualize the reasonable fears of the newspaper in light of the recorded threat. The TEN reminded of the tragic experience in 2006 which saw the murder of several Kaieteur News pressmen.
In light of the AG’s comments, the newspaper expressed that President Donald Ramotar should make known his disgust for such behaviour from his Chief Legal Advisor and should take the necessary action.
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