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Twenty-six IFEX members express international support for Eduardo Kimel

(IFEX) - The following is a joint action signed by twenty-six IFEX members
expressing international support for journalist Eduardo Kimel:

The organisations listed below express our solidarity with Argentinian
journalist Eduardo Kimel and we urge the Argentinian Supreme Court of
Justice to reconsider both the recent sentence of the IV court of the
National Appeals Chamber in Criminal and Correctional matters and its own
sentence, issued on December 22 1998.

On April 8 1999, Eduardo Kimel received a one year prison sentence and a
fine of US$ 20,000 as a result of bringing evidence of the state of
paralysis in which the judiciary had gone into during the last military

In his book "La Masacre de San Patricio", Kimel investigated the
assassination of five religious men in 1976 by one of the "task groups" who
were in charge of illegal repression. In the book, Kimel reported that the
judge who was carrying out the judicial investigation, Guillermo Rivarola,
fulfilled all the formal steps, but when he realized that the order of the
crime had come from the military, Rivarola stopped the investigation and
left it unfinished.

Rivarola felt offended by the criticism and sued the journalist on
defamation charges. Kimel was convicted in the court of first intense, but
the conviction was overturned on the appeal. In their verdict in this
appeal, the judges from the VI Court of the same Chamber that has just now
convicted him considered that Kimel only "exercised his right to report in a
non abusive and legitimate way with no intention to damage Rivarola's

However, last December 22 the Supreme Court sent the case back to the
Chamber to give another verdict, which was finally given on April 8.

Freedom of expression is one of the fundamental rights of every democratic
system, basically because it enables public debate. For this debate to
become effective it is necessary that all groups that participate in it do
tolerate critics. If participants are too sensitive, particularly when they
are public officers subjected to public scrutiny, democratic dialogue can no
longer exist.

We know how important the Argentinian press has been in strengthening the
democratic institutions, especially allowing the citizenship to participate.
We fear, however, that sentences like those mentioned would have a chilling
effect on journalists, causing them to stop investigating relevant matters
such as the many atrocities committed during the military dictatorship.

As organizations dedicated to the defence of freedom of expression around
the world we urge the members of the Supreme Court to reconsider both
sentences and to dictate a fair verdict.

Cape Town, April 22.


Alliance of Independent Journalists, AJI, Indonesia
AMARC - World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters
ANEM, Association of Independent Electronic Media, Yugoslavia
Canadian Journalists for Free Expression
EOHR, Egyptian Organization for Human Rights
Free Expression Ghana
Freedom House
Glasnost Defence Foundation, Moscow, Russia
HKJA, Hong Kong Journalists Association
Independent Journalism Centre (IJC), Nigeria
Index on Censorship, London, U.K.
ISAI, Institute for the Studies on Free Flow of Information, Indonesia
International Press Institute
IPYS, Instituto Prensa y Sociedad, Peru
Media Institute of Southern Africa (MISA)
Media Watch, Bangladesh
Network for the Defence of Independent Media in Africa (NDIMA)
Norwegian Forum for Freedom of Expression, Oslo, Norway
Sindicato del Periodistas de Paraguay (SPP)
PINA, Pacific Islands News Association, Suva, Fiji
Periodistas, Argentinian Association for the Defence of independent
Reporters' Association of Thailand (RAT)
WAJA, West African Journalists Association
Writers in Prison Committee, International PEN

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