Gongloe Recommends Media Commission to License Journalists

first_imgThe constitutional and human rights lawyer, Cllr. Tiawon Gongloe, has recommended that if journalists should be licensed, the National Legislature must create an independent media commission to do so.Cllr. Gongloe’s comment comes in the wake of decision government has made to license journalists beginning  January next year before they can practice in Liberia.This is an entirely new development in Liberia.  Not even during the Tubman administration, on which was often hard on the press, did the Department of Information and Cultural Affairs (now Ministry) or any other government entity attempt to license journalists.The Press Union of Liberia (PUL) that is an advocacy umbrella for journalists has reacted to this decision and described it as an attempt to curtail freedom of speech and of the press.Counselor Gongloe admitted that with the idea of licensing journalists is not wrong.  He mentioned lawyers and medical doctors and nurses as among professionals who are licensed before they can practice.He said it existed as a law in Liberia that the Ministry of Information regulated the media, but a memorandum of understanding was reached during the interim administration of Dr. Amos Sawyer and that of convicted former Liberian President Charles Taylor, that the Press Union of Liberia polices its members.Cllr. Gongloe said the PUL had not fulfilled that role, neither had the Union come down hard on its members who behave in an unprofessional matter. So while agreeing that the policy needs to be maintained, that is not the role of government; rather it is the National Legislature who should create a independent  media commission to regulate the media.Taking into account the current Ebola crisis in the midst of which the President is seeking more powers, the move by the Information Ministry to license journalists  creates suspicion, the counselor averred.“The timing for this regulation is wrong,” he declared, adding, “Whether the government has a good intent for licensing journalists in order to promote excellence in Journalism, the intent will not be felt now considering the prevailing situation.”The closure of National Chronicle newspaper during the current state of emergency makes the licensing of journalists even more suspect, Cllr. Gonglore said.He said the government of President Ellen Johnson Sireleaf, since her ascendancy, has been encouraging press freedom, and has gone as far as signing the Table Mountain Declaration.The government needs not to reverse this policy now, but should wait and find an  appropriate time after the Ebola state of emergency to ask the Legislature to create a media commission, similar to the Independent National Human Rights Commission.Cllr. Gongloe noted that while freedom of press is good for an open society, it also has its bad side that makes it necessary for regulations to be in place.Making reference to Rwanda, he said prior to the 1994 genocide there was free press that propagated hate messages which caused millions of people of one group to be killed.“Licensing journalists is not a violation if there is a law that calls for that.  One needs to be licensed before practicing Journalism as Law is.  The only problem is the timing, and if government can do it without the existing MOU, the Legislature, after the state of emergency, must create a media commission that will carry on such regulations,” the counselor maintained.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

How low can Moses go?

first_imgDear Editor,For the first time in many years, I felt like I wanted to puke. So what could have brought on this sudden feeling of nausea and outrage? Well, I made the mistake of listening to Moses Nagamootoo, the usurper Prime Minister, as he was being interviewed on the NCN programme, InSight, last Wednesday, September 18.Now, this is the same man who, while campaigning in Whim, Berbice, on April 2, 2015, (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k013CAcuJbk) tried to convince his supporters of his virtues by claiming he was the first Minister to refuse a salary increase unless the salaries of nurses and teachers were also increased. “I have never, as a Minister, stayed at a hotel, 5-star; 3-star; 4-star, any hotel at the expense of the Government of Guyana. I have never travelled first class in an aeroplane while I was a Minister” he added.So what has caused Nagamootoo to change, or did he? Moses Nagamootoo, a former “Jaganite” who withdrew his membership from the PPP just before the 2011 General and Regional Elections because he believed he was being “bulldozed” out of the leadership of the party, a position he claimed was bequeathed upon him by the late Cheddi Jagan during some private discussion.But these were all lies, made up to satisfy his massive ego. He was annoyed with the PPP because he was not elected the PPP/C Presidential Candidate in 2011. Moses Nagamootoo is an opportunist who will say and do anything as long as it benefits Nagamootoo. This is the same man who was quoted in an October 21, 2011 article in the Kaieteur News as saying, “I hold dearly his (Dr Jagan’s) great ideals for a free and democratic Guyana where leaders ought to be judged by character, integrity and honesty.”But now that he is enjoying “the good life” under the APNU/AFC coalition, Nagamootoo has forgotten all about those virtues and great ideals he learnt from Cheddi Jagan and has morphed into the biggest apologist and defender of a dictator who now squats in Government. How low can Moses go?During his InSight interview, the usurper was asked about the significance of the date, September 18. Here is his shameless response in part:“To me, it was a wrong, a false interpretation of the Constitution following a No-Confidence Motion… But our situation here was quite different. The 90 days came and pass. The issue of the No-Confidence Motion was engaging the attention of the courts. And so the 90 days lapsed. So when the courts (CCJ) pronounced eventually on June 18th that the No-Confidence Motion was valid, was properly passed, there was an interpretation by the political Opposition that the 90 days begin to run all over again.But as I wrote in my article, there is no second 90 days… for me [it is] a fiction, it’s a figment of the imagination of persons who, for their own reason, would want to see elections held and the intention is to see the back of this Government. “As a lawyer, Nagamootoo is familiar with our Constitution and the 3-month limitation within which elections must be called following the successful passage of a No-Confidence Motion. But like Basil Williams, he chooses to ignore that.It is obvious that the once outspoken defender of the Guyana Constitution is now prepared to disregard its continuous abuse and to hang on to power for the sole purpose of protecting the super-rich Cadillac lifestyle he now enjoys: A monthly salary of over $1.7 million, plus another million or so in perks per month; the brand new $22 million customised luxury Land Cruiser he drives with sirens and police escorts, and the fleet of 20 more vehicles at his disposal.He spent over $19 million of taxpayers’ money on overseas travel from October 2015 to July 2017; and can now import unlimited vehicles which will be exempted from Value Added Tax (VAT). In addition, his wife, Seeta, whom he takes on all his overseas travels, gets to see the world in all its fine glory at taxpayers’ expense. Did I mention that they both travel first class, reside in 5-star luxury hotels and don’t have to give account for the thousands of US$ in taxpayers’ money they spend upon return from these trips?Interestingly, it was Nagamootoo who often referred to the former PPP/C Cabinet Ministers as “fat cat” and condemned the living of a “Cadillac lifestyle in a donkey-cart economy” when he was sitting on the Opposition benches before May 2015.Moses Nagamootoo may have once championed the cause of cane cutters and rice farmers and ordinary Guyanese, but in the end, greed and personal ambition have overcome any decency he had left, and have now reduced him to a mere rubber stamp. Again, I ask, how low can Moses go?Regards,Harry GillPPP/C Member of Parliamentlast_img read more