Apr 16, 2023 News
Kaieteur News – The Guyana Oil and Gas Governance Network (OGGN) and Transparency Institute Guyana Inc. (TIGI) in a joint statement condemned the ad hominem attacks on female journalists in Guyana.
In a press statement, the two advocacy groups noted that the attacks are not about the substance of the news reports by the two female reporters; rather they are attacks on the reporters themselves.
“Chillingly,” the bodies said, “the attacks place a target on the backs of reporters.”
The groups noted that the attacks are being made in a country which, to its shame, has a high rate of intimate partner violence, including murders of women, and male-on-female violence in general. Quoting its 2022 Reporters without Borders (RWB) Report on the status of its Press Freedom Index, the groups noted across the continent, journalists continue working in an increasingly deleterious and toxic environment.
“… Distrust of the press, fueled by anti-media rhetoric and the trivialisation of politicians’ stigmatising discourse – especially in Brazil (ranked 110th in the Index), Cuba (173rd), Venezuela (159th), Nicaragua (160th), and El Salvador (112th) – has gained ground. Increasingly visible and virulent, these public attacks weaken the profession and encourage abusive legal action, smear and intimidation campaigns – especially against women – and online harassment of critical journalists,” the groups noted alluding to the index.
In contrast, the groups said Guyana is ranked at 34 of 176 countries and had a global score of 76.41 in RWB’s Index for 2022.
“In the CARICOM region, only Jamaica (#12) and Trinidad and Tobago (#25) rank higher than Guyana in Press freedom. Guyana should celebrate, uphold and aim to improve its relatively high ranking, rather than expose journalists to a climate of fear.”
The OGGN and the TIGI noted that Press freedom is enshrined in Article 146(1) of the Constitution which states that “Except with his own consent, no person shall be hindered in the enjoyment of his freedom of expression, that is to say, freedom to hold opinions without interference, freedom to receive ideas and information without interference, freedom to communicate ideas and information without interference and freedom from interference with his correspondence.”
“…We remember from the assassination in July 1979 of Father Bernard Darke, S.J., what can happen when an authoritarian government over-excites its supporters. The attacks on journalists should be roundly rejected by that in authority and by all Guyanese alike. As an oil-producing country, Guyana should aim to safeguard and expand its democratic freedoms and safeguards for all citizens and visitors within national territory,” the groups said the joint statement.
Meanwhile, the National Congress of Women an arm of the Opposition, People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) in separate release said that it joins forces with the Guyana Press Association (GPA), other organizations and institutions to denounce the violent attacks against Bagot via social media while noting that it is a medium to perpetuate vile propaganda and character assignation.
“We, the proud, resilient women of NCW, reject and will continue to reject and push back against such attacks. We will use all avenues to ensure our women are respected and given equal opportunities. An attack on one woman is an attack on all. We stand united as we resist this blatant attack by the Facebook page titled, ‘Live in Guyana.’” The women’s arm of the PNCR said in its statement.
“We urge you to cease and desist immediately. We also call on civil society to denounce these atrocious behaviors. Our women must be respected,” the statement added
On Thursday evening, The GPA issued a strong statement of condemnation against the recent attack on Kaieteur News’ Senior Journalist, Davina Bagot.
Moments before handlers for the Facebook page, “Live in Guyana,” issued a post attacking Mrs. Bagot’s professional integrity with wicked insinuations not worth repeating, all while demeaning her for the critical reportage she has done on the oil industry and other matters.
GPA said this is not the first time this Facebook medium has attacked journalists and placed their safety in jeopardy. It said, “This page is believed to be operated by political operatives associated with the governing People’s Progressive Party and its content follows closely on the heels of questions that senior leaders of the incumbent administration find objectionable.”
The GPA said it remains in contact with several regional and international organisations and has placed its concerns for the safety of journalists in Guyana as a major concern. The Association further urged for international assistance to “fight this harassment of media operatives in Guyana.”
The Association also stated that it will endorse any effort by media operatives to have the Guyana Police Force investigate the violation of the Cyber Crime Act, as well as the violation of the rights of women by the Women and Gender Equality Commission.
The GPA said too that it regards such acts as not only an attempt to harass the media from asking searching questions, but also a form of intimidation that ultimately endangers the lives of media operatives by those who may feel emboldened by such posts. With a significant majority of media workers being women, the GPA urged all media workers to ensure that the leadership of their bodies is always in a position to defend their collective rights locally, regionally and internationally.
In a separate statement of condemnation on Thursday Kaieteur News Publisher, Glenn Lall said the attack on Bagot represents an all-time low he never expected certain government affiliates would reach. Lall said Bagot is a woman of class, someone who earned his respect, while noting that he is repulsed by the smear campaign launched against her.
The publisher said too that Bagot has been a tireless contributor and dedicated to the struggle in securing a better Guyana for all through the pages of Kaieteur News and the Kaieteur Radio.
Lall said, “This courageous young lady has been at the forefront of the fight against this injustice being done to the Guyanese people with that ExxonMobil 2016 Contract that the PPP Government does not want to hear or talk about. Her devotion to truth has now resulted in her being ridiculed in the vilest way imaginable.”
He continued, “She has been abused by PPP agents just for doing the right things, asking questions and writing articles about this wholesale robbery going on in this land today. This is what our country has come to, this is what our government is about; this is the kind of people the leadership of this country surrounds themselves with, hooliganism and goons.”
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