Tony Vieira's Comments
18 October 2017


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(Aired 13 May 2009)

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.

Principle One

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.

Explanation: 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.

Principle Two

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.

Principle Three

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 public affairs.

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 information available.

Principle Four

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.

Principle Five

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.

Principle Six

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 it;

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

Principle Seven

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.

Principle Eight

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 license.

 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."

Principle Nine

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.

Principle Ten

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.