Ban on public officers making Media Statements
Hon. Matthew Wale cautions the government on the implications of the Emergency Powers (Covid 19) Regulations 2020, on public officers in essential services.
Hon. Wale says Regulation 26 of the 2020 Emergency Regulations prohibits public officers from publishing information or statements in the media which is inflammatory or incites hatred or contempt against the government.
“If they do, they will be terminated instantly, and this prohibition is a gag on all health workers including doctors, nurses and others expected to be at the front line if there is an outbreak of the virus,” says Hon. Wale.
The Opposition Leader points that, “Doctors, nurses and other health workers will have to deal with sick patients on a daily basis and so if there are short comings, it is important that they are allowed to freely communicate or express their views however they so wish so solutions or improvements can be done”.
“As it stands, Regulation 26 will scare health workers at the front line from raising the alarm bell on government failures which might be detrimental. This can be counter-productive to efforts to mitigate spread of the virus or save lives, if the situation gets worse.
It has been widely reported that similar situations arose in other countries causing great public concern.
He noted that in the USA for example, a doctor was allegedly fired for raising the concern that there wasn’t enough protective equipment provided by the authorities for health workers who were dealing with patients sick with the corona virus in a New York hospital.
“The doctor raised the issue to find solutions. This is the kind of situation we will be faced with here if Regulation 26 remains as it is. Frontline healthcare workers must be allowed to freely express their views from dealing with any stage of the coronavirus situation.
“I therefore urge the PM to take these matters into consideration and to deal with them now.
“We still do not have any confirmed case so the government must take this window of time to ensure that every little thing that needs to be done to prepare well must be done now before it is too late,” Hon. Wale adds.