I have decided to place on record the fact that the current laws
regarding broadcasting licenses are not acceptable to me. I do not accept them
and I have in fact on behalf of all broadcasters rejected them in the Supreme
court, it recorded as case # of .... No.,,, as far as I know it is still on
going and, I will come to it shortly.
First of all I would like to point out that in 2004 the President
of Guyana Mr. Jagdeo signed the treaty of Chapultepec the provisions of which
are recorded below; the laws referred to by Edghill in his letter to the ACB complaining
that Sharma had violated his license about fair and balanced, good taste etc. which
were written in 2001 became obsolete when Mr. Jagdeo signed this treaty. Here
is what was written by Edghill to the ACB: he refers to the post and telegraph
act #47: 2001 when these conditions were put on all private broadcasters'
licenses regulation 23A:
(a) "The Licensee shall ensure that nothing is
included in programmes which offends against good taste or decency or is likely
to encourage or incite racial hatred or incite to crime or to lead to public
disorder or to be offensive to public feeling;"
(b) "The licensee, acting responsibly and in good
faith, shall ensure that any news given (in whatever form) in the programmes of
the licensee is presented with due accuracy and impartiality;"
(d) "The licensee shall ensure that due
responsibility is exercised with respect to the content of any religious
programmes of the licensee and that, in particular, any such programme does,
not involve any abusive or derogatory treatment of the religious views and
beliefs of persons belonging to a particular religion or religious
(e) "The programmes broadcast by the licensee shall
be of the highest possible standard;"
After Mr. Jagdeo signed this treaty in 2004, on behalf of all
broadcasters I refused to pay the license fee and took the government to court
to have these conditions quoted by Edghill removed from my license, since they
were no longer applicable, the judge upheld my position on the conditions being
removed from my license pending the outcome of a trial, as a result the
repressive conditions of the license outlined in the Edghill letter were
removed from my license since, I believe, 2007 and I suspect by extension from all
private television broadcast licenses as well, I was however ordered to pay the
license fees which I did. This matter is still, I believe, subjudice. This
takes care of the Laws in the preamble of Edghill's letter about fair and
balanced broadcasting using obsolete laws. Here are the 10 conditions of the
treaty of Chapultepec and the explanation of them modified slightly by me, not
as to content but to make them more understandable to the common man. I want to
repeat that Mr. Jagdeo singed this treaty since 2004, the laws referred to by
Edghill were temporary laws not to be in effect longer than 6 months to one
year until the Broadcast Authority was formed and were written in 2001, and are
completely offensive to the treaty of Chapultepec which Mr. Jagdeo signed in
Immediately after signing the treaty of Chapultepec in 2004, Mr
Jagdeo was obliged to change the laws of Guyana to comply with the treaty he
signed, so these repressive laws written in our broadcast act in 2001 should
have been modified and the Broadcast Authority which he promised Hoyte to form during
the dialog, should have been put in place years ago. I am also informed by the
opposition that the Advisory Committee on Broadcasting cannot be existing at
this time, since, a very important member, the member nominated by the
opposition, was removed by them. It is true that someone was nominated in 2001
but his performance since then has been so poor that they have withdrawn his
name, he nevertheless continues to pretend to function at the ACB as if he is
their nominee. If this man has no shame that those who nominated him want him
to be removed and continues to function there for the money alone, then the
public should be informed, I am however authorised to tell you that the
opposition who appointed him wants him removed and they refuse to accept that
there is an ACB until they do, so in this case and viewed in this manner, the
law setting up the ACB has been violated since one of the main signatories, the
PNC, has no nominee of their choice on the ACB. This leaves, as in this case,
channels which are not excuse makers for the PPP open to unfair sanctions.
Here are the main parts of the treaty of Chapultepec. Which I
did as a commentary and was aired in Guyana on 15th 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 and are continuing to breach since then; 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 2004 there was no signed treaty.
It is an essential value in human life for individuals to be able to
express themselves freely, to seek, disseminate and receive information with
Explanation: It is not possible for any society to be democratic and
free without having a press that can act with complete freedom.
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, every citizen.
Explanation: There can be no free press or free society if
journalists in particular and citizens in general, find themselves restricted
in their search for timely and complete information. Nor could there be freedom
of the press if those in government or the authorities surround their actions
with secrecy, or try to make or uphold old laws which allow secrecy in the
business of Government as a means of preventing their actions from being
transparent to public scrutiny. Regulation of the press as here in Guyana
with the fair and balanced clauses, appended to all broadcast licenses is a
good example of a restriction to free speech. Such restrictive regulations
conspire against plurality and sow the seeds of totalitarianism and
Every person has the right to receive information that will permit
him to make judgments about public affairs affecting his welfare or that of his
community. This unavoidably forces the authorities to permit free access to
information in its possession regarding the public sector. This information
must to be provided in a timely and fair manner, containing complete facts, including
any necessary supporting documentation, it must be accompanied by accurate data
regarding its sources and any necessary explanations in order that the public
will understand the information being provided.
Explanation: It is an indispensable necessity that for
journalists to operate properly on behalf of the public in a democracy, that
those in government who are in charge of disseminating public information,
understand that they do not own the information. The information belongs to
citizens who, as are its true owners and have the right to know it.
It is also necessary to guard against the bureaucracy hiding
information by unjustly labelling the information as being hidden to protect
national security, public order, etc., but what in fact they are doing is
actively limiting necessary information about public affairs which the public
must have to make informed decisions..
This principle, moreover, calls upon authorities not only to adopt
the necessary measures, including legislative means such as freedom of
information legislation, but to be truly committed to making information
available to the public.
Attacks on the practice of journalism and freedom of expression
described in Principle Four restrict the rights of all other citizens since
they limit the right to receive information by those citizens. These are thus
open violations of human rights that on occasion manifest themselves in a gross
and criminal manner but also in subtle and deceitful ways. Explanation: the
people who restrict information should be deemed to be in violation of the law
which offends press freedom. The authorities cannot avoid their responsibility
for this and as a result it is reaffirmed that governments have an obligation
to guarantee and respect the practice of journalism and freedom of the press
and to ensure that journalists are protected by encouraging the relevant
agencies to investigate and punish those who are guilty of restricting public
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 it, is specifically
prohibited by Chapultepec. Explanation: any action which harms freedom of
expression i.e. the granting of any privilege to news media or journalists in
order to stimulate their praise, or to create bias in their reporting, or to
express ideological commitment to the state or other conduct which damages the
reliability and credibility of information, is contrary to the principles of
Chapeltupec. If any news agency is enjoying special privileges or treatment
which is effectively a bribe from the government which can bias the news agency's
reporting in favour of the government, then the government and the relevant
media are guilty of offences against freedom of the press and humanity.
This principle responds to legal and administrative measures that at
times are used by governments to favour 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 to media houses not sympathetic to the government,
placement of official advertising not based on the criteria of efficiency and
fairness but to withdraw this government advertising to punish media houses
from being too militant. Discrimination in the granting of licenses
broadcasting radio or TV is also not allowed by Chapultepec.
In short, the aim of Principle Seven is to prevent authorities from
acting arbitrarily and in a discriminatory manner in their relations with the
This principle of the Chapultepec Declaration is a result of a
struggle begun by the English poet John Milton, in his book
"Aero-pag-itica," in which he clamoured 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."
Freedom of expression and of the press is taken to be, in this day
and age, the right to express creative freedom which affect the public not only
through the media alone but through any technical medium of social
communication i.e. 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. In plural countries
like Guyana this is especially true we have Christians, Hindus, Muslims,
religions we have East Indian, African, mixed, Portuguese Amerindian and
Chinese races in such plural or mixed societies it is not possible to have one
His Excellency Mr. Bharat Jagdeo signed this treaty in 2004, it
means that as of the time of his signing it on behalf of Guyana, all our laws
even those in the constitution must be changed to ensure that the principles of
Chalpultepec were consistent and have effect within our legal jurisdiction in
keeping with these declarations, if our constitution says we have freedom of
speech [and it does] Mr. Jagdeo and his government are obligated to interpret
the provisions of free speech according to the 10 principles of Chapultepec I
have outlined here.