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New media restrictions may arise from new constitution, CPJ report warns

(CPJ/IFEX) - The following is a CPJ press release:

Bolivia's Historic Moment
A CPJ special report: At the dawn of a new constitution, fears of new media restrictions arise

New York, September 25, 2007 - Bolivian President Evo Morales and his administration have taken an antagonistic stance toward the news media, raising concerns that press restrictions will be imposed in constitutional revisions now being drafted, the Committee to Protect Journalists has found in a new report ( http://www.cpj.org/boliviahistoric/ ).

In "Bolivia's Historic Moment," CPJ's Carlos Lauría documents the president's heated rhetoric and its effect on free expression in the Andean nation. A variety of constitutional proposals, including media ownership and broadcast restrictions, would harm press freedom, CPJ found. More than a dozen attacks on journalists, many by government supporters, have been reported in recent months.

CPJ is calling on Morales to support constitutional reforms that strengthen - not erode - freedom of the press. It urges the president to show greater tolerance toward the media, and to persuade pro-government groups to stop harassing and attacking journalists.

The report is based on interviews with the president, Vice President Álvaro García Linera, senior government officials, journalists, editors, media executives, and human rights activists in the capital, La Paz, and the opposition stronghold, Santa Cruz de la Sierra. "The capitalist system is using the media against the government," Morales told CPJ. Journalists said they fear such comments are creating a climate for repression.

The report is available online and will appear in the coming edition of CPJ's magazine Dangerous Assignments.

CPJ is a New York-based, independent, nonprofit organization that works to safeguard press freedom worldwide. For more information, visit http://www.cpj.org

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