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Guyanese journalists granted precautionary measures after threat from attorney general

This statement was originally published on sipiapa.org on 26 November 2014.

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today welcomed precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in favor of journalists with the Kaietur News Journal in Guyana.

The protection requested to the Guyana government is for the newspaper's president, Glenn Lall, editor Adam Harris and reporter Leonard Gildharie.

The IACHR on November 5 ruled that the lives and personal integrity of the three journalists were in danger after they were threatened for publishing reports of serious wrongdoing by the government. The government has 15 days to provide the journalists with concrete protection, investigate the matter and report periodically to the IACHR on actions that it will be taking on both matters.

IAPA President Gustavo Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, expressed his pleasure at the IACHR decision. “This is an important message. The action helps to safeguard the journalists, but more than that it protects the people's right to receive information of great public interest.”

In explaining the bases of its decision the IACHR said that the Kaietur News Journal had published articles of involvement by senior government officials in secret deals, the sale of public assets and bribery. However, the last straw was contained in a recording of a telephone conversation between the South American country's attorney general, Anil Nandlall, and reporter Gildharie in which the official threatened the journalist and demanded he stop working or otherwise he and his newspaper would suffer the consequences.

Following the paper's formal complaint to the authorities neither the attorney general nor the government denied the facts nor was the report investigated or any protection given to the journalists.

Claudio Paolillo, chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information and editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, stressed the “great preventive character” of the precautionary measures “necessary in a country and in a continent where there should be more political will and action on the part of governments to investigate murders of journalists and break the vicious circle where violence and impunity are nourished.”

The IAPA's attention to this case is due to a background of violence against this newspaper. Four employees of the paper died following a bomb attack on the newsroom on August 8, 2006, an incident that at the time was linked to the political climate in the run-up to an election.

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