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World Press Freedom Day in the Americas

via CJFE
via CJFE

Honouring the memory of fallen Latin American journalists, 26 murdered and 12 disappeared in the last 12 months, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) recognised World Press Freedom Day by launching an extensive online degree course designed to prevent attacks against journalists. "The Extent of Organised Crime: The Practice of Journalism in the Face of Violence," is being offered in conjunction with the Autonomous National University of Mexico (UNAM). IAPA continues to talk to editors in Mexico to build solidarity among news media in order to challenge the government to take action to protect press freedom. This week, IAPA presented two new cases involving journalists murdered in Brazil to the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights (IACHR). http://www.ifex.org/americas/2010/05/03/iapa_wpfd/

Canadian Journalists for Free Expression (CJFE) launched its first annual Review of Free Expression on World Press Freedom Day. Canada is ranked by press freedom organisations as being among the top 20 nations of the world on free expression rights, but received a low grade for access to information and the federal government, as well as attacks on the press and impunity. Articles in the report cover defamation law, deadly attacks on journalists in the ethnic press, police impersonating journalists, government tactics to deny access to information, and Canadian journalists who have been imprisoned and tortured while reporting in Iran and Somalia, among other issues. http://www.ifex.org/canada/2010/05/03/2009_free_expression_review/

Index on Censorship carried a report by Peruvian journalist Carlos Flores Borja on 3 May, describing his ongoing fight for justice after his radio station, Radio la Voz, was shut down for covering a government massacre in June 2009. Flores Borja reported on the story of 3,000 indigenous Indians protesting the Peruvian government's plans to appropriate their land for minerals, gas and oil. According to indigenous groups, 50 protesters were killed and up to 400 disappeared. Radio la Voz was closed, but over 100 broadcast stations began covering the story. Flores Borja is now involved in a legal battle to bring Radio la Voz back on air with the help of a lawyer provided by the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (IPYS). http://www.indexoncensorship.org/

Other activities:

- The Fundación Andina para la Observación y el Estudio de Medios (Fundamedios) wrote to Ecuadorian President Rafael Vicente Correa Delgado on 3 May, calling on him to put in place measures that will protect journalists and enable them to do their jobs. Most attacks on the press are instigated by public officials, police and government authorities, says Fundamedios. According to the IACHR, the President has publicly referred to the press as corrupt, destabilising and irresponsible, fostering a climate for more attacks on the press and self-censorship by journalists. http://www.fundamedios.org/home/index.php

- Fundamedios and other organisations composing the Andean Group for Freedom of Information (Grupo Andino por la Libertad de Información, GALI) also condemned freedom of expression violations in Venezuela. Other members of the group include the Peruvian-based IPYS, the Asociación Nacional de la Prensa (ANP) of Bolivia and IPYS-Venezuela. Noting that press freedom is guaranteed under the Venezuelan constitution, the groups highlighted the recent detention of a political dissident after he gave a TV interview, as well as the detention of a media owner, along with various restrictions on TV stations. In addition, the statement called for an investigation into the unfortunate death of photojournalist Jorge Durán, who died of heart failure on 22 April while he was covering a poorly organised press conference organised by the National Guard (GN) in western Venezuela. Several journalists became sick while exposed to chemicals at a drug lab.

- The Canadian Committee for World Press Freedom (CCWPF) announced the winners of its press freedom award and Editorial Cartoon Competition. This year's theme for the cartoons was "the 'right' not to be offended is not a right: how can we encourage vigorous debate while being respectful of religious sensibilities?" http://www.ccwpf-cclpm.ca/english

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