The Media Workers Association of Grenada (MWAG) is alarmed by evidence of the growing intolerance of the current government to opinions and views it sees as critical to it in the media.
Media owners and workers are reporting of increased pressures – both overt and covert – by high profile officials acting on behalf of the administration of Prime Minister Tillman Thomas. We are particularly concerned about two recent cases.
We call on the government to explain its role in the recent decision of the Grenada Broadcasting Network to issue a directive to contributor Godfrey Augustine that he cannot continue with his long-running radio feature ‘River Stone’ because it has been critical of government.
Prime Minister Thomas, who has direct responsibility for the partially state-owned company, must clear the air on who authorised the letter of complaint, demanding action.
The management of the Grenada Broadcasting Network, and particularly its CEO Vic Fernandes also needs to state publicly the station’s policy towards freedom of opinion and thought, not only in its general programming, but also news content; and what direct influence the government, as a 40 percent shareholder – has on its news operations.
The Media Workers Association has also received a written report from freelance journalist, Maryam Tawfiq who has accused Finance Minister Nazim Burke of physically intervening to stop her interview with the Prime Minister Tillman Thomas after he had consented to it.
Tawfiq, a journalist who contributes to RUSH TV, has reported that Minister Burke has singled her out after she posted online a video of her previous failed effort to interview him.
MWAG interprets these actions over the recent months as an orchestrated move by the government and its agents to harass and intimidate our members, and in some cases directly affect their livelihood.
We also recall that it was Prime Minister Thomas’ office that influenced the Barbados owners of the Grenada Advocate to wrongly dismiss its local editor for publishing a story – with the recent revelations of the recent months – which turned out to be completely true.
MWAG reminds Prime Minister Thomas of his responsibility to public information and calls on him to seriously recommit his administration’s pledge to press freedom – not just in words – but real action.
MWAG will keep its international affiliates and the international media watchdog organisations informed (IPI, Reporters without Borders and IFEX) on these apparent threats to press freedom in Grenada.