Equality Rights group GGR - Citizenship in Democracy EQUALITY RIGHTS GGR

News and Information from Gibraltar on Equality, Human, Gay and Social Rights

Sunday, December 03, 2006

GGR calls for a Press Complaints Commission

In a press release today commenting on the results of the Constitutional Referendum, Equality Rights Group GGR has today said that all sides must now be gracious enough to put the past where it belongs and continue working for a better Gibraltar.

Chairman Felix Alvarez added that, “The new Constitution is now a reality. We need to put a padlock on it and move on. Negotiations for a better Gibraltar starts now – and that means as much negotiating with our own politicians so that they recognize the wider issues involved in our society as well as with the UK and Spain. General Franco’s Sovereignty agenda cannot continue to dictate our agenda as a society for another 50 years.”

“At the same time, the realities of what has happened during the Referendum campaign should not be forgotten. Only 38% of the electorate gave positive support for the new Constitution, and 62% either voted ‘no’ or didn’t vote at all. There is little reason for jubilation on either side and it is clear that Gibraltar is by no means happy and we call for stability and working together rather than for division.”

“Questions over democratic scrutiny of process during this time have, nonetheless, been acute during the Referendum campaign and healing can only occur by working to rectify the errors in a positive way,” continued Mr Alvarez. “Issues regarding the situation of the media have also been worrying and it is only right that whatever proper recourse need be had to clarify the events in question be undertaken with a view to internal and democratic healing and reconciliation. However, in a situation where Government now will have greater powers than ever before and the citizen, therefore, proportionately diminished in this regard, it is time for this community to start considering the role of the press and media which are so vital to democracy and over which greater open vigilance must be had by all.”

“Therefore, and in particular, Equality Rights Group GGR calls for the establishment of an independent, objective and empowered Press Complaints Commission to adjudicate fairness of access to written and broadcast media so as to ensure mechanisms guaranteeing fair and balanced reporting and access to all social agents so as to strengthen democratic confidence. The public needs to know that all sides of the news is evenly and objectively provided to them without any possibility of political intervention and that, while editorial judgement will always play an important part in the management of the media, this cannot be at the expense of the right of the public to balanced information. This is of particular importance today in the run-up to Elections, but will continue to still be as relevant thereafter. In the new imbalance in the rights of Government over the citizen under the new Constitution, we urge the community to be very vigilant on this score and to similarly urge the establishment of an impartial body to oversee the vital role of the broadcast and published media which will preserve without grace or favour the rights of both the media themselves and the public at large.”