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Argentine Supreme Court to receive IAPA's 2008 Chapultepec Grand Prize for press freedom

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is an IAPA press release:

ARGENTINE SUPREME COURT TO RECEIVE 2008 CHAPULTEPEC GRAND PRIZE

Justice Ricardo Luis Lorenzetti expresses his satisfaction with the IAPA's recognition

The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) announced today that the 2008 Chapultepec Grand Prize - one of the most prestigious distinctions given out by the IAPA - will be awarded to the Argentine Supreme Court, in the person of Chief Justice Ricardo Luis Lorenzetti, for the court's recent decision barring the government from discriminating against news outlets by arbitrarily withdrawing or cutting back on government advertising.

This historic ruling, in a case that pitted the Neuquén provincial government and Governor Jorge Sobisch against Editorial Río Negro, held that "the government may not manipulate advertising by giving it to or taking it away from media outlets on the basis of discriminatory criteria," that advertising may not be used "as an indirect means of undermining freedom of speech," and that "government discrimination in the placement of advertising is an act of indirect coercion that is contrary to freedom of speech."

For IAPA, the court's decision truly embodies the meaning and spirit of the Declaration of Chapultepec and sets an outstanding precedent for case law in the Americas.

The Chapultepec Grand Prize was established to recognize the efforts of individuals and entities that are not necessarily related to the media but have made significant contributions to the effort to promote, develop, strengthen and defend the principles of press freedom set forth in the Declaration of Chapultepec, created in 1994 as an instrument for freedom of speech in the Western hemisphere.

Regarding the case in question, Principle 7 of the Declaration of Chapultepec states, "Tariff and exchange policies, licenses for the importation of paper or news-gathering equipment, the assigning of radio and television frequencies and the granting or withdrawal of government advertising may not be used to reward or punish the media or individual journalists."

Chapultepec Committee Chairman Bartolomé Mitre (La Nación, Argentina) said that "the IAPA could think of no other entity more deserving of this distinguished award, and therefore we would like to pay tribute to the Argentine Supreme Court, represented by Chief Justice Ricardo Luis Lorenzetti, at our Mid-year Meeting to be held March 17-20, 2008." Mitre visited the Argentine Supreme Court last week and personally delivered the invitation to Chief Justice Lorenzetti, who expressed his pleasure with this recognition from the IAPA.

The Argentine Supreme Court is the eighth recipient of the IAPA Chapultepec Grand Prize, joining a prestigious group of previous recipients that includes: Federico Mayor Zaragoza, director-general of UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization); Arthur O. Sulzberger, chairman emeritus of The New York Times Company; Dana Bullen, former executive director of the World Press Freedom Committee; Jorge Santistevan, former human rights ombudsman in Peru; Claudio Grossman, former president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; Santiago Cantón, former executive secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; and, most recently, the World Bank.

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