Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Guyana ranked 39 out of 173 in RSF press freedom index

Guyana ranked 39 out of 173 in RSF press freedom index

Posted By Stabroek staff On October 21, 2009 @ 5:31 am In Local News | 14 Comments
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Guyana has been ranked 39 out of 173 in the latest worldwide Reporters Without Borders Press Freedom Index, which has noted concerns on government’s relations with the press.

In 2008, Guyana’s ranking was 88 out of 173 but it appears that this ranking was low because not enough information had been gleaned.

In its annual report released yesterday, the French NGO said that press freedom is widely respected, despite sometimes tense relations between President Bharrat Jagdeo and a section of the media. It noted that the country’s leading daily, Stabroek News, was made to pay the price for this by being starved of official advertising for 18 months.

The report says that in common with most English-speaking countries in the Caribbean, Guyana has a satisfactory record in fundamental freedoms. Journalists experience very few threats or assaults, it said. The report noted that press concerns are chiefly focused on relations with the government. It adds that the state maintains a monopoly on radio which is being increasingly contested within the profession.

“The hot-headed president’s extreme sensitivity to criticism complicates the job of some media”, it states. The report cites the case of Capitol News, reporter Gordon Moseley, who was banned from the Office of the President in July 2008, “because the head of state was displeased by his report on his visit to Antigua in which he referred to comments about safety problems in the capital Georgetown and failed to respond to government calls to apologise”.

The report also noted that “the president’s touchiness was even more strongly in evidence when the top-selling daily Stabroek News was denied official advertising from November 2006 to April 2008.”

It stated that the Government Information Agency (GINA) never provided any explanation for the boycott. Over an 18-month period, public advertising in the daily was limited to a few inserts on the part of the tax authorities. Bharrat Jagdeo has never tried to conceal his annoyance with the paper’s editorial line, which has been more critical of him since his re-election in 2006, the report states.

For 2009, Jamaica had the highest rating in the Caribbean at 23 followed by Trinidad at 28. Suriname placed 42, Haiti 57 and Cuba 170. The countries that tied for first place were Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Norway and Sweden.

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