Friday, March 23, 2012

Kaieteur News should openly state that it's anti-government instead of masquerading as a national newspaper- AG

ATTORNEY General and Minister of Legal Affairs Mr. Anil Nandlall yesterday accused the Kaieteur News of engaging in “gutter journalism” in its continuing abuse of Press Freedom.Nandlall said Kaieteur News, in order to prosecute its anti-government agenda, deliberately denied him the opportunity to make an input in an article the newspaper published on March 22, 2012 with a screaming front page headline, “Three years after teen’s torture - Nandlall backpedals on six million dollars compensation”..
“I wish to emphatically state that this headline is absolutely misleading and so are many statements contained in the said article. In the circumstances, it is incumbent upon me to respond,” Nandlall said in a statement yesterday.
Following is the full text of Mr. Nandlall’s response to Kaieteur News:

I read with deep concern the screaming front page headline of Kaieteur News, March 22nd, 2012 “Three years after teen’s torture - Nandlall backpedals (sic) on six million dollars compensation” and the article which ensues.
I wish to emphatically state that this headline is absolutely misleading and so are many statements contained in the said article. In the circumstances, it is incumbent upon me to respond.

1. On the 20th of March, 2012, I issued a press release in which, inter alia, I alluded to my belief that Mr. Khemraj Ramjattan’s constant criticisms of me in the press is founded upon my refusal of his numerous requests to pay the judgment sum of $6,000,000 to him, which was awarded in the now well known genital burning case, unless he produces his client. Mr. Ramjattan had capitalized on a statement which I made in the press earlier this year that the Government may settle the case if he produces his client since I am aware that he was unable to locate his client for over a year, yet he was demanding the money be paid to him.

2. Although KN published my press statement, they, inexplicably, omitted to publish the matters referred to in (1) above, even though I personally spoke with Editor–in-Chief, Mr. Adam Harris, and explained in detail to him, what I considered to be the true motive inspiring Mr. Ramjattan’s criticisms of me and that it will be included in a statement that I will send for his publication. While I recognize the concept of the editor’s discretion to exclude matters from being published, I also recognize that this discretion must be exercised fairly and objectively with the ultimate objective of presenting a balanced final product. It is axiomatic that balance and fairness are not objectives which KN wishes to achieve. Theirs is a manifest intention to twist, misrepresent and omit, where necessary, in order to convey a view critical of the Government. It would be a little more palatable if KN would openly state that it is anti-government but it masquerades as a national newspaper and it is with this charade, that I take umbrage.

3. Any professional news outfit operating in the civilized and free world, would at a minimum, attempt to solicit a comment from me before publishing the story appearing in KN March 22nd, 2012, alluded to above. My cell number is known to almost all reporters at KN, including the Editor-in-Chief. Yet no effort was made to contact me before the story was published. On the contrary, Stabroek News published the same story but extended to me the right to a comment and in their story they have published those comments (see Stabroek News, 22nd March, 2012 at page 11).

4. Upon reading the article, I inquired of Mr. Adam Harris the reasons why my press release was not published in its entirety and why those excerpts which were omitted in the publication are now used to contradict me; and why the right to a comment was not afforded to me. Mr. Harris glibly informs me that those are not his decisions and if I am to send to him again my views he will publish it. Well I am doing so now and the public will be the judge.

5. Indeed, Mr. Ramjattan and his client visited the Attorney General’s Chambers and met with me. Mr. Ramjattan again, reiterated his request for payment of the judgment sum. I reminded Mr. Ramjattan that my position is, as always was, that the Government may consider settling the matter and pay the judgment sum, on the condition, that he locates his client. He admitted that he had some difficulty in so doing but he eventually was able to make contact with the client. I informed him that now that he has made contact with his client the Government will now consider whether they would settle the matter and withdraw the appeal; that, in any event, I, alone cannot make such a decision. I drew to his attention the fact that the National Budget of 2012 will have to be passed in the National Assembly before the issue of payment of the judgment sum can be addressed. I emphasized to him that it behoves me to act in a manner compliant with financial accountability and within the confines of budgetary allocations, concepts which he so commendably promotes.

6. If I were afforded the right to a comment, the aforesaid would have constituted my input and would have deprived KN of the opportunity to baselessly and maliciously attack another Government functionary and therefore, it would have denied them the opportunity to allege that I “backpedal”. However, in order to prosecute their anti-government agenda, they denied me the opportunity to make my input.

7. I take this opportunity to call upon the Guyana Press Association, the Guyana Human Rights Association, Amnesty International, and every organization which advocates for freedom of the press to denounce this type of gutter journalism. I wish to remind that press freedom is a constitutional right which many fought and struggled valiantly to restore in Guyana. Now that we have it, we must cherish it and have regard to the sacrifices of those who toiled for its return. We must never countenance its violation or its abuse. It carries with it certain responsibilities which must be faithfully discharged because the possibility always exists for those who abuse it to lose it.

1 comment:

  1. Adam Harris knows Roger Khan..

    From Facebook:

    Adam Harris I do know Roger Khan and he know me very well. The fact that he knows my face is irrelevant. I also knew his lawyer.
    Wednesday at 09:51 · Like · 1