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There were exchanges of words between the staff of the state-owned National Communications Network (NCN) and members of the Opposition, A Partnership for National Unity and Alliance for Change (APNU+AFC) at a rally held at Mocha, East Bank Demerara last Sunday.
Both the NCN and APNU+AFC issued statements on Monday based on what they think occurred. In the NCN’s statement, which came first, the media said “In the course of executing their duties to provide coverage of the meeting, two cameramen in the employ of NCN were attacked and intimidated led by APNU + AFC Member of Parliament, Nima Flue-Bess.”
NCN said they lodged a formal complaint with the Guyana Police Force and informed the Guyana Press Association (GPA).
The Opposition issued a statement, subsequently, denying the accusation. According to the Opposition “At no time were media operatives attacked by any APNU+AFC Member of Parliament, supporter or any person at the public meeting in Mocha, East Bank of Demerara on Sunday 6th November 2022.”
The GPA issued a statement on Monday, stating the organisation “condemns all acts of intimidation and attacks on media workers.”
According the GPA, “Reports from the two videographers are that they were confronted by several persons when they turned up to provide coverage to the public meeting. They said too were denied access to sound by persons operating the sound system and were verbally abused by the MP and several persons at the public meeting on several occasions. At several times the videographers sought the intervention of the Guyana Police Force while at the venue. ”
Evidently there are at least two different recounts of what transpired and all cannot be true. It therefore should follow the course of an investigation before pronouncement or ascribing culpability.
The media must be allowed to do its work without fear or intimidation, exercising long held tradition of journalistic ethics and interaction with those they seek to cover. Those whose events are being covered have a similar responsibility to respect the role of the media and likewise engage in civil interaction.
Village Voice reached out to Member of Parliament, Ms. Nima Flue-Bess and People’s National Congress Reform (PNCR) Public Relations Officer, Ms. Shaneika Haynes, whose names are mentioned in the Opposition’s press statement as some involvement in the issue.
They recounted their side of the story to this publication. This will not be published in deference to the Press Association and Police who may want to reach out to the two to hear for themselves. When asked by this publication should they be contacted by the Press Association and/or Police, would they be willing to tell their story, an affirmative response was given.
The NCN staff members are too entitled to similar respect.
Natural justice requires all sides being heard before a determination is made on culpability and the next course of action in dealing with the situation, now and in the future.
Administratively, it may also require in-house training on the part all. Each group has a right to peacefully go about their business. An environment that would ensure this requires adherence to the human and civil rights of all. These are essentials to conflict resolution and peaceful co-existence.