Reporters Without Borders (RWB) has indicated in its 2017 World Press Freedom Index that there have been significant setbacks in Guyana over the past year, although the constitution guarantees free speech and the right to information.
RWB is an entity that campaigns for media freedom and the rights of journalists around the world.
The RWB Guyana World Press Freedom Index published on Wednesday has placed Guyana 60th in its world ranking, down by three places from its last ranking; while Trinidad and Tobago has been ranked 34th, Jamaica 4th, and the Eastern Caribbean 38th.
RWB has said that, in Guyana, “officials often use… defamation laws, which provide for fines and up to two years in jail, to silence opposition journalists”; and that “members of the media regulatory authority are appointed directly by the president. This restricts the freedom of certain media outlets, which are denied licences. Journalists are also subjected to harassment that take the form of prosecutions, suspensions and intimidation”.
Reporters Without Borders has said that the 2017 index “reflects a world in which attacks on the media have become commonplace, and strongmen are on the rise. We have reached the age of post-truth propaganda and suppression of freedoms, especially in democracies.”
Declaring that the overall level of constraints on media freedom worldwide has risen by some 14 per cent over the past five years, the organisation has said that media freedom has never previously been so threatened.
In the past year alone, the organisation wrote, some 62 percent of the 180 countries surveyed have seen “a deterioration of their situation, while the number of countries where the media freedom situation was ‘good’ or ‘fairly good’ fell by 2.3 per cent.”