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Coalition submits recommendations in lead-up to UN review

(IFEX-ALC) - Geneva, 10 September 2012 - An IFEX-ALC delegation comprised of three member organisations of the IFEX-ALC alliance, the Instituto Prensa y Sociedad (Press and Society Institute, IPYS-Peru) in Peru, the Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala (Centre for Informative Reports on Guatemala, CERIGUA) and the Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (Association for Civil Rights, ADC) in Argentina, is in Geneva the week of 17 to 21 September advancing recommendations on freedom of expression in the lead up to the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) of these three countries, which will be conducted in October by the United Nations Human Rights Council. The delegation plans to contact the members of the Human Rights Council and representatives of observer states.

The delegation's intention is to bring about the inclusion in the final UPR report and the acceptance by the states under examination of recommendations whose immediate adoption would contribute to an improvement in the freedom of expression and access to information situation in those countries. All of the recommendations relate to the fulfillment of international freedom of expression standards.

The IFEX-ALC Alliance and its member organisations are of the view that the eventual acceptance by Argentina, Guatemala and Peru of the recommendations presented for consideration will contribute to necessary improvements in freedom of expression norms and standards throughout Latin America.

The delegation's visit represents the continuation of a novel experience in working together for the 16 IFEX-ALC member organisations that specialise in freedom of expression and press freedom issues. The IFEX-ALC alliance is the only group that works together on this issue in Latin America and carries out coordinated efforts before the Human Rights Council and the UPR mechanism to promote freedom of expression in Latin America, having been present on several previous occasions in Geneva, with a proven impact resulting from its work. The value-added work of IFEX-ALC also rests on the fact that it always acts based on credible and unbiased information, favouring an open dialogue with the states under examination.

The organisations in attendance on this occasion in Geneva are supported by the remaining 13 organisations in Latin America, which are also working to promote the same recommendations before the diplomatic missions and foreign ministers in their respective capitals.

IFEX-ALC in the development of this mission urges the member states of the United Nations Human Rights Council to present the following recommendations to the states of Argentina, Peru and Guatemala and call for their immediate adoption and implementation. All of the recommendations address priority issues for the exercise of human rights in the countries under examination. They are presented in a joint document with representative cases and questions for the states under examination that demonstrate the need for their implementation:

For Argentina
1. Promote the approval of an access to public information law in accordance with international standards.
2. Create an independent and autonomous body to guarantee access to government information.
3. Promote policies for transparency and proactive generation of public information that can be accessed by all citizens.
4. The government should produce information to facilitate the exercise of the rights to health, housing and education by vulnerable groups, especially women, ethnic minorities, indigenous peoples and immigrants.
5. The government should ensure the reliability and accuracy of information produced by the state, especially as regards the country's economic situation, and guarantee that the Instituto Nacional de Estadísticas y Censos (National Statistic and Census Instsitute, INDEC) operates in an independent manner.

For Guatemala
1. The government should adopt, implement and carry out the journalists' protection programme it officially announced on 3 May 2012.
2. The Unit for Crimes against Journalists within the Public Prosecutor's Office should be strengthened, providing it with the necessary resources to ensure thorough investigations that lead to convictions of those responsible for crimes against journalists.
3. The government should conduct a review of the existing telecommunications law, which has been characterised by the OAS and UN rapporteurs for freedom of expression as undemocratic, exclusionary and discriminatory, and amend it to comply with international standards.
4. The government via the Interior Ministry should promote activities geared toward determining which topics are most dangerous for the press to cover, especially at the level of the Guatemalan departments, in order to implement strategies and action plans for the protection of journalists and media outlets and as such diminish the risks they face.
5. The government should implement legislative changes that ensure pluralism in media coverage, and launch protective actions to guarantee the safety of journalists.

For Peru
1. The government should define and explain the role of the National Transparency Authority that will be created as announced by the Council of Ministers' president on 23 July 2012.
2. The creation of the National Transparency Authority and access to public information mechanisms should be carried out taking into account the proposal put forward by the ombudsman, and the authority's independence, specialisation and autonomy should be guaranteed.
3. The government should establish a series of indicators to measure the fulfillment of access to information requests that will clearly demonstrate the number of requests that were answered or denied.
4. The government should promote the reform of the law on transparency and access to public information and its regulations, and establish a system of sanctions to be applied when public officials fail to fulfill the commitments contained in the law.
5. The government should carry out mass education campaigns on the existence and right of access to public information as part of its anti-corruption initiatives.

For further information, contact:

- Guatemala, Centro de Reportes Informativos sobre Guatemala (CERIGUA). Tel: (+502) 221 2521/2238 1456. [email protected];
- Argentina, Asociación por los Derechos Civiles (ADC). Tel: +5411 5236 0555/6/7. [email protected]; / Foro de Periodismo Argentino (FOPEA). Tel: +5411 4334 5482. [email protected];
- Peru, Instituto Prensa y Sociedad. Tel: +51 1 2474465. [email protected];
- Geneva, International Network of Human Rights (Red Internacional de Derechos Humanos, RIDH) Tel. (+41) 022 732 2189, Mob. (+41) 076 328 9219. [email protected];

Interested in developing advocacy strategies targeted at the UN Human Rights System in Geneva? Use this interactive guide inspired by the IFEX-ALC experience and designed by Geneva based UN experts RIDH to understand how to campaign within the different mechanisms relevant to freedom of expression.

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