Guyana | Freedom House

Freedom of the Press

Guyana

Guyana

Freedom of the Press 2008

2008 Scores

Press Status

Partly Free

Press Freedom Score
(0 = best, 100 = worst)

31

Political Environment
(0 = best, 40 = worst)

14

Economic Environment
(0 = best, 30 = worst)

11

Status change explanation: Guyana declined from Free to Partly Free owing to a government decision to withdraw advertisements from the Stabroek News—one of the country’s leading newspapers, apparently in response to critical reporting—as well as an armed attack on several reporters from another major paper.

The constitution provides for freedom of speech and of the press, and media are generally allowed to operate without interference. However, long- promised legislation to facilitate the distribution of private radio licenses has yet to be introduced, and a freedom of information bill is apparently unlikely to be passed into law. Independent media are able to express a variety of opinions and freely criticize the government. Nevertheless, attacks against media workers served to intimidate the press and promote self-censorship in 2007. Violence against media workers erupted in May, when staff at one of the country’s main newspapers, Kaieteur News, were left traumatized after two men entered the editorial department and held several reporters at gunpoint, demanding to see the newspaper’s publisher, Glenn Lall, who was out of the country. The assailants later fled on foot. According to the International Press Institute, the government stated that it viewed the attack as another attempt to undermine press freedom in Guyana and that the gunmen were part of a criminal network seeking to spread panic and fear in society at large.

Including the government-owned daily, the Chronicle, Guyana has six national newspapers and six other periodicals, all of which are allowed to operate freely. Following the decision by the Government Information Agency to withdraw advertisements from the Stabroek News, commencing in December 2006, a number of other agencies and state corporations followed suit, based on directives from the government. The government has repeatedly insisted—including in its response in December to the special rapporteur for press freedom of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights—that its withdrawal of advertising was based on the newspaper’s declining circulation. However, most observers believe that the action was a response to the paper’s critical reporting on the government and the People’s Progressive Party during the 2006 election campaign. The government maintains a long-established radio monopoly and operates the country’s only 2 radio stations. There are also 23 television stations. Use of the internet is unrestricted by the government, and approximately 20 percent of the population accessed this medium in 2007.