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Guyana2 February 2005

High court upholds TV station’s suspension for indefinite period

In its 31 January decision, the high court ordered CNS’s suspension as a temporary measure until it issues a ruling on the legality of the government’s decision to suspend the station’s licence for a month.

"Suspending a news media is an unacceptable act of censorship when it is done to stifle criticism of the government," Reporters Without Borders said today in reference to the suspension of Guyana’s CNS Channel Six television station, announced by the government on 22 January and provisionally upheld by the high court on 31 January.

"This is why we call on the Guyanese authorities to lift this measure and restore the equipment confiscated from CNS as soon as possible," the press freedom organisation said.

Reporters Without Borders added: " We do not exempt the news media of all responsibility and if CNS gave out false information, which does not seem to have been the case, the authorities can turn to the courts."

This was announced on 22 January by Prime Minister Samuel Hinds after CNS had for the past four days heavily criticised relief measures taken by the government in response to major flooding. Hinds accused the CNS "Voice of the People" programme of stirring up public disorder and hostility to the government’s relief efforts.

The same day, the authorities confiscated the TV station’s transmitting equipment and closed its studios.

CNS briefly resumed broadcasting on 28 January in defiance of the ban. The head of the station told Agence France-Presse (AFP) this was done because he had never received the prime minister’s closure order. The next day, the police seized the equipment which the station had rented in order to resume its broadcasts. CNS lawyer Nigel Hughes told AFP the station would appeal against the high court’s decision.

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