Media under close watch for ethnic discrimination

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IN the tense political climate, the Ethnic Relations Commission (ERC) has intensified its media monitoring mechanisms for ethnic discriminatory practices and reminds media outlets that the promotion of such is against the law.

Furthermore, the ERC is in the process of engaging media and political parties, both Parliamentary and non-Parliamentary, to encourage them to discourage the same as it goes against the country’s goal of national harmony. In a release on Wednesday, the ERC stated that this is in keeping with its Constitutional mandate enshrined in Article 212(D) of the Constitution.

Outputs under greater watch include television, radio, newspaper, online news entities as well as comments posted on social media outlets.

The aim is “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 commission has indicated that related Public Service Announcements (PSAs) will be placed in the media as pertinent reminders.

“Monitoring mechanisms, which have been intensified over the past few months in keeping with demands resulting from the ongoing political developments, 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 stated.

“The commission is in the process of engaging those responsible as it works assiduously to educate on and to discourage such practices. At the same time, it wishes to commend those entities that demonstrate a profound sense of responsibility in its 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.

According to the Constitution, 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 $100,000 together with imprisonment for two years.

Meanwhile, any person convicted of such, in addition to the above, punishment, shall be incapable for five years from the date of the conviction of being a member of the National Assembly; a member of any local democratic organ or the holder of any Constitutional or statutory office.