More organizations condemn Government’s actions against Channel 5
The Barrow administration has blocked public officers from communicating on an individual basis with Channel Five. As a result of the government embargo, they can’t communicate with us unless other media houses are present at public events. It sounds confusing and it is. The VIP and the PUP have both issued statements condemning the government’s move to stifle freedom of expression. Now an elected representative and another television station have come forward with support for Channel Five. Freetown Division representative Francis Fonseca sent a press release today stating that he “absolutely rejects and condemns this misguided and dangerous precedent-setting decision taken by our Government. Freedom of the Press is a fundamental pillar of a healthy and robust democracy contributing to greater accountability, better governance, and economic development. Restrictions on the media are generally an indication of a Government’s willingness to undermine and intimidate other democratic institutions and in this case displays a shocking lack of confidence in the Belizean people by our Government.” Fonseca made it very clear that he did not perceive the station as a PUP station as Barrow would have the public believe. In fact Fonseca says “I raise my voice on this issue, even as I too am unwelcomed at Channel 5 because of a perceived view of my less than full support for the Leader of the Opposition.” That’s quite a claim coming from a PUP. Fonseca concluded by urging civic, businesses and religious leaders to let their voices be heard on this issue and to stand firmly on the side of freedom of the press.
The Orange Walk station CTV-3, which is owned by the family of the Leader of the Opposition, has also come out in support of Channel Five. CTV’s statement says that the attempt to censor or control a private and independent media house in any way is contemptible and cannot be supported or tolerated. The current administration’s recent decision against Channel 5 can only be viewed as dangerous, retrogressive and an attack on our independence and right to inform the Belizean public. CTV-3 News calls on the Government of Belize to reconsider and reverse its position, and to find, in the spirit of democracy, transparency and good governance, a more amicable way of resolving its issues with Channel 5 and Great Belize Productions. Both letters can be viewed at our website, Channel5belize.com.