ANTIGUA The biggest development that has happened in Antigua & Barbuda that could impact press freedom here is still developing. On September 20, Director of Public Prosecution Gene Pestaina initiated legal action against OBSERVER Radio’s station manager Lennox Linton, for comments Linton made on his morning show. Linton, on September 16, referring to a newspaper article in which the DPP criticized him, said he would not be pushed into making a comment on Pestaina’s suitability to hold the office of the DPP. The DPP has alleged that he was injured and held up to ridicule and has brought the charges under the Libel and Slander Act of the Laws of Antigua & Barbuda, Section 11 1(A) and 1(B). Section 11 1(A) states that any person who maliciously publishes any defamatory statement other than a defamatory libel in relation to any other person shall be guilty of an offence and would be liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000 or to a term of imprisonment not exceeding one year. Section 1(B) states that any person who publishes a defamatory statement in relation to a person’s character or conduct of any other person, shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding $2,000 or nine months imprisonment. The company’s attorney Dame Hamilton has said that he intends to contest the matter “to the hilt.” Hamilton referenced a Privy Council decision in the Leonard Hector vs. Attorney General case, which said, “In a free, democratic society, it is almost too obvious to need stating that government and who are responsible for public administration must always be open to criticism. Any attempt to stifle of fetter such criticism amounts to political censorship of the most insidious and objectionable kind.” Hamilton added that public officials must understand that “they operate under the glare and scrutiny of the members of the public who, ultimately, pay them with their tax dollars.” The other issue simmering here is the use of the state-controlled media house ABS TV and Radio. Even with the change of administration, ABS continues to be a public relations tool for the ruling party. In February, the then head of news and current affairs Karen Challenger-George was transferred to be the communications officer in the Ministry of Finance. Challenger-George had, until that point, been at ABS for more than 10 years, with a break to study at Ryerson Polytechnic. She was a know ALP supporter and had several run-ins with her superiors over the skewering of the news to suit an ALP agenda. She requested a transfer, if the opportunity arose. Juliet Benjamin, a teacher for more than 30 years, whose experience in the media, to that point amounted to several years as a proofreader at The Antigua Sun and The Daily OBSERVER, is now the acting head of news and current affairs. Benjamin also worked on the election campaign of Dr Errol Cort, who unseated former Prime Minister Lester Bird in St John’s Rural East. Dr Cort is the minister of finance and the economy. GRENADA The matter of libel suits brought by the prime minister against one particular newspaper is still pending and was postponed recently. GUYANA Two privately owned newspapers, the Stabroek News and the Kaieteur News and several private television stations operate freely and without censorship or interference. There is a high level of media freedom in Guyana. However, the Government maintains a radio monopoly that it inherited from the previous government thirteen years ago. New broadcasting legislation had been promised and a government spokesman has said that private radio licenses will then be issued. But nothing has been done for years. This would complete the liberalization of the media. There is no Freedom of Information Act. There is some access to government ministers and other government departments but this could be better.