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Local and international implications of the Guyana Chronicle editorial

by Attorney-at-Law, Nigel Hughes

The now infamous editorial of the Guyana Chronicle published on the  3rd July 2012  has been the subject of much commentary over the past week.

Article 154 A of the Constitution of the Republic of Guyana directly incorporates into law the Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination.

Article 2 (b) of the Convention  provides  “Each state party undertakes not to sponsor, defend or support racial discrimination by any person or organizations”.

Article 5 of the Convention states  “In compliance with the fundamental obligations laid down in Article 2  this convention, States undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination in all its forms …

The  Guyana Chronicle is a state entity.

Article 4 of the Convention provides “ State parties condemn all propaganda and organizations which are based on ideas and theories of superiority of one race or group of persons or ethnic origin, or which attempt to justify or promote racial hatred and discrimination in any form and undertake to adopt immediate and positive measures designed to eradicate all incitement to or acts of such discrimination…

On  the 7th July  we read of a rather  belated and  post protest  apology by the Chairman of the Board for the “slippage” in the publication of the offensive editorial. The chairman is reported to have said  “  Personally speaking I don’t tolerate those things at all. The most I can do is apologize and hope it is accepted. I may resign and if my colleagues agree we will do so en block.”

The resignation of the Board is not a question of if but how soon next week.

On the 11th July  we learnt of the apparent termination of the services of the author and the suspension of another person who was charged with the  responsibility of reviewing the editorial. A very  small step in the right direction.

The real discussion which our multi ethnic and multicultural society should now embark upon with some urgency is how do we establish a national newspaper whose purpose and functions are consistent with our obligations  as a State as set out in  Article 7 of the Convention  which provides   “State Parties undertake to adopt immediate and effective measures, particularly in the fields of teaching, education, culture and information, with a view to combating prejudices which lead to racial discrimination and promoting understanding, tolerance and friendship among nations and racial and ethnic groups as well as propagating the purposes and principles of the Charter of the United Nations, the Universal declaration of Human Rights, the United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of All forms of Racial discrimination, and this Convention”.

It is my hope that the “slippage” of the Chronicle does not escape the attention of the Honourable Attorney General and Minster of  Foreign Affairs who under the Treaty are obliged to report on behalf of the Republic, violations of the treaty  to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. Any omission on this front will only add further insult  to the grave injury caused by the publication.

Perhaps not unlike the hapless  West Indian team, the Board might want to consider fielding two “slips” and a gully as it seems that the  editor whose services were allegedly  terminated by the Board on the 11th  July  managed to publish a news article in the Chronicle  on black Friday last week, a mere two days after her alleged  termination.

Guess that slippage  was just a natural mystic.