PPP/C intends to mount legal challenge against “oppressive” Broadcast amendment Act

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The People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) has put the APNU/AFC Government on blast for ignoring all the concerns highlighted internationally, as well as locally over the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2017, assenting it into law and enforcing its contents onto broadcasters.

According to the Party, “this Act unduly restricts press freedom, expropriate private proprietary interest and is oppressive and unconstitutional. We intend to lead the constitutional challenge against it in the Courts.”

Moreover, the PPP/C says that further exacerbating the situation is the enforcement aspect of the “draconian” Act which due to “incompetence” has left the broadcasters with very limited time as it relates to the submission of applications for licences.

See their full statement below:

Despite calls from the Guyana Press Association, Caribbean Association of Media Workers, Reporters without Broader and other major organisations representing the cause of journalism and freedom of the press and the People’s Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) to the Government to withdraw the Broadcasting (Amendment) Bill 2017, the Government ignored all these calls, passed the Bill in the National Assembly, the President assented to it and upon the directions of the Prime Minister, the Guyana National Broadcasting Authority (GNBA) has begun to enforce its provisions.

We reiterate that this Act unduly restricts press freedom, expropriate private proprietary interest and is oppressive and unconstitutional. We intend to lead the constitutional challenge against it in the Courts.

As a result of blundering incompetence, the Government has made the enforcement of the Act as draconian as the provisions themselves. Although the Bill was assented to and came into force since the 7th September 2017, this information was only made public on the 24th September 2017. Then only on the 1st October 2017, did the GNBA inform broadcasters that they have seven days to submit their applications for a licence under the Act. Even then the incompetence continued: only late on the evening of the 3rd October 2017, were application forms for the licences made available.

Therefore, broadcasters are now forced to complete application forms which require a massive amount of financial and other technical information before the deadline of Saturday the 7th October 2017. If they fail to do so then they would be forced to close down their operations or expose themselves to be charged with a criminal offence, which carries a fine of $1M and imprisonment for 1 year and their broadcasting equipment is liable to be forfeited by the Government, under the provisions of this law. This oppressive regime of requirements is another reminder of the harsh reality that we are careening down the road to political dictatorship.

We say to the Government that is it not too late to withdraw this oppressive piece of law.

That Moses Nagamootoo, one who masqueraded as a journalist for several years, is the subject Minister simply aggravates the tragedy.

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