See full statement below:
The Guyana Press Association condemns the threats, verbal assault and attempts of physical attacks of our media workers over the past weeks including the last two days as they gathered around the GECOM tabulation centre and GECOM Secretariat to inform and update the nation about elections.
We hold the leaders of the major political parties, Police Commissioner and members of the Guyana Elections Commission responsible for any harm brought to media professionals as they conduct their duties.
The political leaders through speech and silence continue to bait and incite supporters to act against opposing groups and the media. During several opposition protest actions last week media workers were followed, taunted and insulted while doing their jobs as some political leaders even attempted to direct journalists on how to write their stories.
During this week, media workers were verbally assaulted outside the tabulation centre.
This assault rose to an alarming level on Friday afternoon into the night when party supporters gathered outside of the GECOM Secretariat and prevented the press from accessing interviews and GECOM in full view and presence of Police Officers and party representatives.
Media workers were verbally abused based on the media outlet they represented and their ethnicity, as members of the crowd attempted to even check packages that included their equipment and food in their possession and prevented them from accessing their colleagues to obtain their dinner or to rotate.
Late on Friday night, as the declaration for District Four was to be made, there was an outright blockade of the media by the crowd in full view of Police and party representatives of the Coalition as one media worker reported that she was nearly physically assaulted.
From the start of results tabulation, GECOM and the Guyana Police Force have played dodge ball with the safety and security of media workers and requests for a secured spot outside of the tabulation centre have been met with refusal based on which agency has responsibility for security on the ground.
As such, media workers were prevented from conducting interviews of persons leaving the centre about the situation which arose last night.
Based on what we have seen, the safety of media workers continues to be treated with a lack of interest by all those concerned with elections.