ERC stepping up efforts to ensure media houses ‘stay in line’

File photo: President Granger flanked by the 10 new ERC members following their swearing-in earlier this year
File: President David Granger (center) flanked by the 10 ERC members 

With General and Regional Elections expected to held soon and considering the current political climate, the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) has already intensified its monitoring mechanisms to ensure that the various media entities across Guyana – television, radio, newspaper and online news entities behave in a responsible and ethical manner.

In a press release, last evening, the ERC said that its monitoring mechanisms, over the past few months, have captured various instances, through publishing, facilitated and self-perpetuated, that are deemed “counterproductive to the process of promoting harmony and good relations across Guyana”.

The ERC said it will therefore step up its efforts to “discourage persons and institutions from heightening tensions through incitement and from indulging in, advocating or promoting discrimination or discriminatory practices on the ground of ethnicity”.

The ERC also commended those entities that demonstrate “a profound sense of responsibility in their reporting and the many Guyanese who, through social media outlets, bring attention and call upon their fellow countrymen and women to desist from posting inciting and disparaging comments”.

To this end, the Commission also wishes to remind that under: –

139 D (1) of the Representation of the People’s Act that, any person who makes or publishes or causes to be made or published any statement; or takes any action, which results or can result in racial or ethnic violence or hatred among the people shall be liable on conviction on indictment to a fine of one hundred thousand dollars together with imprisonment for two years.

139 D (2) Every person convicted of an offence under subsection (1) shall, in addition to any punishment under the said subsection, be incapable, during the period of five years from the date of the conviction, of being a member of the National Assembly or being a member of any local democratic organ or the holder of any constitutional or statutory office.

“The Commission urges familiarity which it believes would lead to restraint within the context noted and shortly, related public service announcements will be placed in the media as pertinent reminders”, the statement added.

Meanwhile, the ERC said it is in the process of engaging the media and political parties, both Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary, with the intention of working for national consensus to educate and discourage acts that are not in keeping with the fostering of national harmony.