The ten principles of Chapultepec
were adopted by the Hemispheric Conference on Free Speech in Mexico City on the
11th March 1994. Guyana signed as accepting its provisions by President
Bharat Jagdeo on 4th May 2004. I cannot think of one of the 10
provisions which the PPP government has not breached; to be fair I must say
that the PNC when in government also infringed a lot of these principles but at
that time prior to 1994 there was no treaty.
It is an essential value in human life for individuals to be able to express
themselves, to seek, disseminate and receive information with complete freedom.
It is inconceivable for a society to be democratic and free if is does not have
a press that can act with absolute freedom without which these rights would
inevitably be limited.
This principle recognizes the right to seek, disseminate and receive
information of any kind, air views on any matter and disseminate any and all of
them in any medium. The holders of this right are not only those who work as
journalists, but everyone.
Explanation: There can be no free press or free society if
journalists in particular and citizens in general, find themselves restricted
in their seeking timely and complete information. Nor if those in government or
the authorities surround their actions with secrecy or seek protection in laws
that uphold secrecy as a means of preventing their actions being transparent.
Regulation of the press often has been used to restrict or deny these
rights. Such restrictive regulation conspires against plurality and sows the
seeds of totalitarianism, at the same time that it strangles individual
creativity that enables progress in civil liberties. Similarly, invoking the
color of law to justify restriction, international denunciation and repudiation
of dictatorships is made more difficult.
Every person has the right to receive information that will permit him to
make judgments about public affairs affecting his welfare or that of the
community. This unavoidably forces the authorities to permit free access to
information in its possession generated within the public sector. This
information ought to be provided in a timely and fair manner, containing
complete facts, including necessary supporting documentation, accurate data
regarding its sources and any necessary explanations in order to understand the
information being provided
Explanation: It is indispensable for journalists that the officials
in charge of ordering, conserving, and administering public information understand
that they do not own the information. The information belongs to citizens who,
as its owners, have the right to know it. It is necessary to watch out for
cases in which the bureaucrat unjustly invokes such exceptions as national
security, public order, etc., with the objective of limiting information about
This principle, moreover, calls upon authorities not only to adopt the
necessary measures, including legislative means such as freedom of information
legislations, to ensure free access to public information, but moreover to make
Attacks on the practice of journalism and freedom of expression described in
Principle Four restrict the rights of all other citizens for they limit the
right to information of those citizens. They are thus open violations of human
rights that on occasion manifest themselves in a gross and criminal manner and
in subtle and deceitful ways.
Explanation: The way in which those who take such actions repeatedly
escape justice is one more assault to be added to the list of crimes against
press freedom and news-gathering. The authorities cannot avoid their
responsibility for this impunity. As a result: It is reaffirmed that governments
have an obligation to guarantee and respect the practice of journalism and
freedom of the press, to put an end to the assaults and in every case to
encourage the relevant agencies to investigate and punish the guilty.
The actions that make up violations may have either a public or a private
origin. Whatever their origin, however, the state has a responsibility for the
actions it initiates or carries out, but also for not adopting the rules and
regulations empowering it to prevent and punish violations of freedom of
expression and of the press.
Explanation: The United States Supreme Court held that a prior
restriction of that nature was "the essence of censorship." According
to the court, the true essence of freedom of the press was the protection
against prior restrictions or prior censorship, a philosophy that remains in
effect today. Prior censorship is the best known of the restrictions of free
speech and press freedom. It supposes a control of information before it is
disseminated and, consequently, the possibility of total or partial veto on the
part of the censor. This has been used, and continues being used, by
totalitarian political regimes. As a weapon of restriction of a fundamental
right of man, it is essential to remove it anywhere it may appear and whatever
the grounds used to justify it.
On the basis of this principle, the following definitions apply:
Discrimination in any manner of making access to information difficult or
denying such access, when it is the duty of the state and its agents to provide
Explanation: any action which harms freedom of expression i.e the
granting of any privilege to news media or journalists in order to stimulate
praise, create bias in reporting, express ideological commitment or other
conduct which damages the reliability and credibility of information is
contrary to the principles of Chapeltupec
This principle responds to legal and administrative measures that at times
are used by governments to favor or harm media or journalists. This directly or
indirectly restricts the right to free speech and press freedom.
Explanation: these actions take different forms, such as the
application of discriminatory and abusive taxes and duties, placement of
official advertising not based on the criteria of efficiency and fairness, lack
of transparency in the award of radio and television frequencies, and the
absence of controls to prevent the operation of illegal broadcast stations.
In short, the aim of Principle Seven is to prevent authorities from acting
arbitrarily in their relations with the media.
This principle of the Chapultepec Declaration is a result of a struggle
begun by the English poet John Milton, in his book "Aero-pag-it-ica,"
in which he clamored for the freedom to write and publish without any official
Explanation: the principle is this "Everyone has the right to
freedom of thought and expression. This right includes freedom to seek,
receive, and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of
frontiers, either orally, in writing, in print, in the form of art, or through
any other medium of one's choice."
Freedom of expression and of the press is taken to be, in this day and age,
the exercise of freedom of expression affecting the public and through any
technical medium of social communication such as the graphics media, radio,
cinema, television, telephone call-in shows, communication by satellite
transmission, computer networks and all other technical means of communication.
But no one is responsible for its performance except the press itself. To
impose any kind of official demands for measuring what the press does is
incompatible with freedom.
When Principle Ten specifies that no news medium nor journalist may be
punished for publishing the truth, truth should be understood to be an ideal to
be achieved, a goal to be pursued. The human condition also allows for a
limited truth, which is not necessarily the truth of everyone else and in no
way the sole and whole truth.
Explanation: the free dissemination of this and other truths must be
preserved, with all their peculiarities and limitations, and fundamentally the
imposition of an official truth must never be accepted.
Ladies and Gentlemen I draw your attention to Principle 7 its provisions
specifically prohibit anyone who withdraws advertising from any media house for
the sole purpose of punishing that media house for having a conflicting view if
they do so they are guilty of offending the principles of Chapultepec,
any media house which is subjected to such discrimination either by the
Government or by the business community would therefore be free to take
whatever steps it deem fit to alert the public that it has been victimized,
this means also that the media house can ask the public, who appreciate and
support the views of that station, to stop buying or doing business with any
store or business which is breaking any of the 10 principles of Chapultepec.
If this nonsense of victimizing me and other non PPP stations does not
stop, I will publish the names of the companies and business and stores which
only advertise on stations which support the PPP and the government owned media,
and ask the afro Guyanese and mixed Guyanese people who do not support the PPP,
to stop buying from such stores. If the government Media does not stop
victimizing the private media we will ask our supporters to stop buying from
any shop, business or store which is advertising on Government and PPP
sympathetic only stations and media.