19 October 1998


RSF asks Oporto summit for an end to the harassment of the press

Incident details


(RSF/IFEX) - According to RSF, there are seven countries which are among the
most repressive of freedom of information, in which: six journalists were
murdered while exercising their profession, two imprisoned, six exiled, five
arrested, 75 threatened or assaulted, and there were 66 cases of serious
pressure and restraints on the flow of information. In addition, various new
restrictive laws point to the negative situation facing freedom of the press
this year in the seven Latin American countries which show it the least

These seven countries (Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico
and Peru) -- five of which have seen journalists murdered (four in Colombia,
one in Brazil and one in Mexico) -- account for the vast majority of this
year's attacks against freedom of the press in Latin America: two
journalists are in prison (in Cuba), six have been forced into exile (three
from Guatemala, one from Colombia, one from Cuba, and one from Peru), five
have been arrested, thirteen were kidnapped, 22 were the victims of assaults
or attempted assaults, 36 received death threats, and 54 cases of legal,
administrative or economic pressure against journalists or media outlets
have been recorded; in twelve other cases, there have been restrictions on
the right to inform and five of these countries have new restrictive laws.

In Argentina, four journalists were assaulted, nine received death threats
or were harassed and various media outlets and journalists were given heavy
fines for "libel" or for causing "moral damage" to the Head of State. The
National Assembly and the Senate are ready to study proposed laws which
restrict the media.

In Brazil, a journalist was murdered in the course of his work and two
others were murdered this year in circumstances which have not yet been made
clear. There are draft laws underway which would restrict information.

In Colombia, four journalists were murdered in the course of their work, 46
have been murdered in the last ten years. Seventeen journalists have been
assaulted or have been kidnapped and one is in exile in the United States
after receiving death threats.

In Cuba, two journalists are serving prison terms, one has been detained
since 1 October and another has gone into exile under pressure from the
police. Another journalist has been detained, three have been assaulted,
twelve threatened or harassed, and various restrictions against the
international press have been put in place.

In Guatemala, there was an attempt on the life of one media worker, and
three others have been forced into exile following death threats. The
Guatemala Journalists' Association (Asociacion de Periodistas de Guatemala)
denounced the economic repression and intimidation suffered by the press in
the last three years.

In Mexico, four journalists have been murdered since 1 January 1997 and 40
others have suffered various types of attacks during the same time period.
One journalist was murdered this year, one arrested, three received death
threats and eleven were assaulted. With 43 cases, Mexico holds the Latin
American record of legal, administrative and economic restrictions and
pressure against the press. The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) has
denounced a proposed communications law which would attempt to control

In Peru, two journalists have been arrested, two assaulted and eleven
threatened or harassed. One journalist had to go into exile in the face of
threats to detain him, and the owner of the television station Frecuencia
Latina went into exile after having been stripped of his Peruvian
citizenship. There are also attempts to restrict the right of journalists to
protect their sources.

RSF is asking the Ibero American Summit in Oporto for the following: that
those responsible for the murders of journalists be punished, that those who
are unjustly imprisoned be released, that the repression of media outlets
and media professionals cease, that the government not interfere with the
press, and that an independent commission for the defence of press freedom
in Latin America be created.


Reporters Without Borders
47, rue Vivienne
75002 Paris
rsf (@) rsf.org
Fax:+33 1 45 23 11 51
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