Miami (December 27, 2019) - The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed concern to the Guyana authorities regarding a complaint of discrimination in the distribution of official advertising against the Stabroek News in retaliation for its journalistic content.
In a communication sent to the Prime Minister, Moses Nagamootoo and the Director of the Department of Public Information, Imran Khan, IAPA asked the government to review its current practice of distribution of official advertising
Next, the full text of the letter signed by the president of the IAPA, Christopher Barnes, of the Jamaican newspaper The Gleaner, and the president of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, of the Mexican portal La Silla Rota.
"On behalf of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA), we wish to express our concern regarding the complaint of the Stabroek News of Guyana, one of our members, pertaining to discrimination in the distribution of official advertising in reprisal for its journalistic content.
This practice, as outlined, is incompatible with the Declaration of Chapultepec, signed in 2002 by President Bharrat Jagdeo, and represents a grotesque act of discrimination against the press to which IAPA always pays special attention. This form of censorship affects not only a publishing house and its journalists; it affects the society as a whole which is deprived of relevant information on the performance of government and elected officials.
IAPA holds further that the application of discriminatory policies in the granting of official advertising can be construed as acts of corruption whereby public resources provided by citizens are used for the private interests of administrators, becoming a form of embezzlement of public funds. State advertising should be delivered with full transparency and technical criteria, equity and through efficient management of public resources.
The Declaration of Chapultepec states that "the media and journalists should neither be discriminated against nor favored because of what they write or say", and that "the granting or withdrawal of government advertising may not be used to reward or punish the media or individual journalists." These concepts also included in the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
It is against this background that IAPA calls on the Guyanese Government, in the interest of preserving freedom of expression in the country, to review its current practice of distribution of official advertising so as to ensure that neither Stabroek News or any other media house is adversely affected."
The IAPA is a non-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from the Western Hemisphere; and is based in Miami, Florida, United States.