10 November 1997


RSF calls for creation of non-governmental commission on press freedom on occasion of summit of Iberian and Latin American leaders

Incident details


(RSF/IFEX) - In a 7 November 1997 press release, RSF called for a
non-governmental commission on press freedom to be created on the occasion
of the annual Ibero-American Summit, held on Isla Margarita, Venezuela on 8
and 9 November. RSF asked for a commitment to the creation of a
non-governmental commission on the occasion of the annual meeting of
leaders from Latin America, Spain and Portugal. On 6 November, Miguel Angel
Burelli, the Foreign Affairs Minister of Venezuela, the summit's host
country, pledged his country's support for the initiative. RSF says this
commission should be formed of Iberian and Latin American non governmental
organizations devoted to the defense of press freedom, and would have the
mandate to ensure that the nations in question adhere to the following
eight commitments:

  • to ratify (where it has not yet been adopted) the International Covenant
    on Civil and Political Rights, Article 19 of which guarantees press

  • to respect the existence of pluralistic and independent media;

  • to carry out swift and thorough investigations into journalists' murders,
    and prosecute and convict those responsible, whoever they may be;

  • to systematically open an inquiry when a journalist is assaulted;

  • to give clear orders to military and police officers for them to respect
    the safety of journalists;

  • to refuse to use government advertising contracts and the allocation of
    radio or television frequencies to place pressure on media;

  • to modify press laws so no press offence can be punished with a jail term
    or a fine so high to cause the closure of a media outlet;

  • to create an environment in which press freedom organizations can carry
    out investigative missions without facing political or administrative

    In its press release, RSF recalled that, since 1st January 1997, at least
    eight journalists have been killed in Latin America while exercising their
    profession (three in Mexico, two in Colombia, one in Argentina, one in
    Brazil and one in Guatemala). In Peru and Panama, there have been heavy
    threats and reprisals against journalists. In Cuba, a journalist was
    sentenced to 18 months in jail for "contempt" and "defamation."

    The Iberian and Latin American leaders were expected to sign a document at
    the summit "reaffirming the rights to freedom of expression, information
    and opinion, fundamental to which is the public's right to receive free and
    true information, without censorship nor restrictions" (translated from the
    French). The declaration was to condemn all attacks, and all forms of
    violence and pressure on media and journalists. But, RSF said, "the
    declaration must translate into concrete measures. This is why RSF is
    asking the leaders to create a non-governmental commission to ensure press
    freedom is respected in these countries."

  • Source

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