May 08, 2021 News
– as global ranking also decreases
Kaieteur News – Press freedom in Guyana has been deemed a problematic situation in the 2021 World Press Freedom Index, where the country ranked 51st – moving back two places from the 49th ranking obtained in 2020.
The index was prepared by the Reporters without Borders (RSF), the world’s biggest non-governmental organisation (NGO) which lobbies for the defence of media freedom, which they refer to, as the basic human right to be informed and to inform others. It assessed key areas such as, media pluralism; media independence; legislative framework governing news and information activities; and more importantly, abuses and violence against those in the media, in 180 countries around the world.
The index shows Guyana receiving 25.61 points for its underlying situation score, which seeks to assess the condition of media freedom in a country, taking into consideration all of the key areas outlined. According to RSF, while Guyana’s Constitution provides protection for free speech and the right to information, officials have proposed legislation including defamation laws, which provides fines and up to two years jail time “to stop journalists who disagree with their political party.”
The NGO added that since members of the media regulatory authority are appointed directly by the president, there is a restriction of freedom for media outlets, which are denied licences. It further posited that recent attempts to improve regulation of Guyana’s broadcast industry involved no consultation with any broadcasters and journalists would have faced much harassment in the form of prosecutions, suspensions, and intimidation.
On the bright side, Guyana scored zero for “abuse,” meaning that based on the assessment, there was no violence against journalists and media outlets. RSF said that the abuses indicator for each country is calculated based on the data about the intensity of abuses and violence against media (on a scale of zero to 100) during the period evaluated.
Norway has topped the index for the fifth year in a row, followed by Finland, Sweden and then Denmark. Haiti is among the worst ranking in the Caribbean, as it placed 87th. Notably, journalists in Haiti are often targeted during violent nationwide protests. Last year after falling 21 places, it ranked 83rd, now it has fallen by another four places. Jamaica has the best ranking in the Caribbean with 7th and its press freedom situation has been referred to as one that is good.
Guyana’s ranking on the index paints a grim picture about media freedom and it is quite evident that it leaves much more to be desired.
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