Georgetown, Guyana – (March 29, 2019) The Ministry of the Presidency condemns and rejects as deliberately false and misleading, articles relating to Minister of State, Mr. Joseph Harmon, published by INews Guyana and Guyana Times, which misquote the Minister’s response to a question posed to him about serving members of the Government who hold dual citizenship, during his Post Cabinet Press Briefing this morning.
In the first and second paragraphs of the INews and Guyana Times articles published today and titled “Harmon says he will not give up his foreign citizenship” and “ BREAKING: Harmon refuses to give up foreign citizenship” the news outfits claim that the State Minister said that he “will not give up his foreign citizenship but will continue to serve as a Member of Parliament (MP) until the ruling by Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).”
The articles further said that “Harmon, during a post cabinet press briefing, maintained that this move is not illegal, and that all government parliamentarians with dual citizenship will return to the National Assembly at the next sitting which is scheduled for April 11.”
The Ministry of the Presidency would like to make it pellucid that no such utterances were made by the Minister of State.
The Ministry further maintains that the assertions carried in the articles have no basis in fact and are clearly designed to mislead the public and create mischief. As such, the Ministry is calling for an immediate retraction from the publishers of INews Guyana and Guyana Times.
In responding to a question posed to him by Prime News journalist, Ms. Nazima Raghubir, Minister Harmon said: “The question of dual citizenship, this is matter which is hot in the media right now and therefore, I believe it is important that we clarify this matter. I must say to you that this matter has engaged the attention of the High Court of Guyana, it has engaged the attention of the Court of Appeal and it is also a matter which has been appealed to the Caribbean Court of Justice as one of the grounds for appeal. In that regard, the attorneys representing the State will advise the Government with respect to the situation with Members of the Government that are dual citizens so in that regard, I will say that this matter is still engaging the attention and Cabinet has not made a ruling on it. In that regard, it is contemplated that on April 11th, 2019 when the National Assembly sits, that all the members of the Government side will be there.”
Further, in response to a question posed by journalist, Mr. Neil Marks of News Room, who asked, “Sir, could you explain the Government’s reasoning for not wanting to uphold the Court’s decision on dual citizenship even though that is under appeal as is the passage of the No Confidence Motion? The Opposition Leader has accused you of being duplicitous…”
Minister Harmon made it explicitly clear that while the matter is under appeal at the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Government will respect and honour the final decision of the Court.
His verbatim response was, “Well you know the Opposition Leader has accused us of many things that he himself is guilty of, but I am not sure that those labels accurately describe us as an administration. I see nothing duplicitous about it. The fact of the matter is that that Court of Appeal has dealt with the matter and the matter is now under appeal at another level. In so far as we are concerned, the Court of Appeal has made a determination on all of the matters before it and so we will abide by what the Court of Appeal has said. If at the level of the CCJ these matters are dealt with and they are definitively pronounced upon then certainly we will abide by what the Court says.”
The Ministry of the Presidency therefore strongly condemns these articles as wicked falsifications.
It is also urging the members of the media corps to be guided by the tenets and principles of sound journalism and to desist from publishing false information. The Ministry also urges the Guyana Press Association to recognise its role as the body responsible for maintaining professional standards among its membership and to condemn this level of careless reporting.
The Ministry further notes that the Post Cabinet briefing was broadcast live via television, online and other communication platforms for the members of the public who can listen and form their own opinions. It is therefore urging all right-thinking Guyanese to view the presentation for themselves and not to be misled by half-truths and other falsehoods designed to manipulate them and destabilise the society.
While the Government of Guyana stands resolutely for the protection of freedom of speech and freedom of the press in Guyana, it condemns in the strongest possible terms, the publishing of untruths, dangerous propaganda and misleading information that could create unrest in the society by fostering resentment among citizens towards the legal sitting Government.