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IAPA: Venezuela's government tries to silence media

Editorial - El Universal

26.10.04 - The final report of the Inter American Press Association 60th General Assembly states that an official policy aimed at limiting the freedom of speech and the press freedom prevails in Venezuela and urged Hugo Chávez' administration to observe the international norms ruling the journalism practice, news agency AP reported.

The IAPA concluded that the policy implemented by the Venezuelan government is also aimed at punishing citizens and journalists who express an opinion opposing the government.

The assembly added that the Radio and TV Social Responsibility Law means a further step in that direction. "Under the pretext of protecting childhood and youth from violent news and programs, the bill imposes a control over the media contents and establishes government's previous censorship against any program believed to be an attack to national security."

The IAPA claims that the Venezuelan government keeps disregarding the international treaties on human rights and the decisions of human rights Inter-American organizations, particularly those related to the freedom of speech and the press freedom and the personal integrity of journalists.

The agency urged the press laws to be adjusted "to the principles and rules on freedom of speech included in the American Human Rights Convention and the Inter-American Democratic Charter, in the jurisprudence of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and widely stated in the Chapultepec Declaration," and to the IAPA principles. Likewise, it pointed out that "government officials still promote civil and criminal judicial actions against newspapers and journalists based on the so-called contempt laws."

Among the resolutions of the final report, there is an acknowledgement of "the courage of the Venezuelan press and journalists for their risky and disciplined fight to preserve the freedom of speech and press freedom."

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