Press freedom to expand economy

Guyana Chronicle
May 4, 2003

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World Press Freedom Day was observed yesterday. It is a day on which we spend some time to focus our thoughts on all that is implied when we talk about Press Freedom.

Press Freedom plays an important part in maintaining and expanding democracy. It helps to protect our human rights.

Journalism is a noble profession as well as a vocation in which the practitioners, the journalists, whether in the print or electronic media exercise their skills in getting to the truth, including allowing opportunity to the other side to freely express their views to give the balanced and fair picture or account.

Today in Guyana, we experience and practice to the fullest extent our freedom of expression and fully support the message of the UNESCO Director-General to mark the day. We also pay tribute to all journalists, past and present, who were and are in the forefront of the fight to restore and maintain press freedom.

The PPP/C Government has a proud record of not only restoring, but also expanding press freedom in Guyana. A fact, which has been, recognised both locally and internationally. Successive United States of America Country Reports on Human and Political Rights have confirmed the existence of a vibrant and free media in Guyana. The past 10 years have seen this freedom flourishing and consign to the dustbins of history the period when media practitioners were killed, tortured, harassed and forced to seek political asylum.

The challenge now is for media owners and practitioners to ensure that the freedom achieved is exercised with the concomitant degree of responsibility.

The victory of press freedom must be jealously guarded; a task to which the administration is fully committed. A recent example was the May 24th 2002 endorsement of the Declaration of Chapultepec (the Latin America press freedom charter) by His Excellency, President Bharrat Jagdeo.

On this another World Press Freedom Day, it is appropriate to recall President Jagdeo’s statement and assurance at that May 24th, 2003 ceremony: “A free and independent media is an integral part of a free, open and democratic society…My administration has never and will never seek to exercise censorship on members of the media, nor will ever the day return when media houses will be denied the right to secure equipment and supplies.”

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