President Dr Irfaan Ali on Tuesday assured media operatives and citizens that the government has no intention of using modern technology such as spyware to monitor their activities.
The Head-of-State was at the time addressing members of the media fraternity at the National Conference and Symposium hosted in observance of World Press Freedom Day at the Arthur Chung Conference Centre (ACCC), Liliendaal.
His statement came after President of the Guyana Press Association (GPA) Nazima Raghubir called on the administration to assure journalists and media houses that it will not utilise spyware such as Pegasus.
“This government has no intention whatsoever; it has not even contemplated my mind to move in any direction to have any spyware. I have not even imagined something like that, it will never happen, at least under this government,” he said.
President Ali further noted that under the democratic construct of a free society, no government should be spying on its population, noting that, “wherever it exists, it should be rooted.”
The President also mentioned the Cyber Crime which was passed into law in 2018 under the former coalition administration, and which ignored the then Opposition’s amendments to the bill.
“… the then Opposition, we (PPP) spoke out about it, we objected to it, we placed amendments on the table, and the then government disregarded all of those amendments and went ahead with the bill,” he said.
Nevertheless, President Ali emphasised that the PPP/C Administration believes in freedom of the press. He said that his government has been the most accessible to the media and that will continue.
“There has never been anytime I am called upon, anywhere and not make myself available, not only to the media, but to the people of this country because there is where I belong, there is where I feel comfortable, I would not run away from that.”
The President also spoke about responsible journalism, even while operating in a free and democratic society.
The two-day conference is the brainchild of Minister within the Office of the Prime Minister with responsibility for Public Affairs, Kwame Mc Coy.
Also, in attendance of the opening were members of the cabinet including; Senior Minister in the Office of the President with responsibility for finance, Dr. Ashni Singh, M.P, M.P, Minister within the Ministry of Housing and Water, Susan Rodrigues, M.P, Minister of Agriculture, Zulfikar Mustapha, M.P, Minister of Public Service, Sonia Parag, M.P, Minister of Local Government and Regional Development, Nigel Dharamlall and Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Dr. Vindhya Persaud, as well as members of the diplomatic community.
World Press Freedom Day 2022 is being observed under the theme ‘Journalism Under Digital Siege’.