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AMARC welcomes inclusion of articles concerning communication in new draft Constitution

(AMARC/IFEX) - AMARC-Latin America and the Caribbean (AMARC-ALC) expresses its support for various articles in the new draft Bolivian Constitution. During a seminar on local radio policies and legislation, which took place between 19 and 21 November 2008 in La Paz, various members of AMARC-ALC took the opportunity to analyse and exchange opinions on the proposed Constitution, focusing on articles relating to freedom of expression.

AMARC-ALC has highlighted articles 106 and 107, which refer to "social communication" and include important definitions for fundamental information and communication rights.

AMARC-ALC is pleased that the state has clearly recognised as rights guaranteed for all Bolivians "the right to communicate and the right to information" (article 106, section 1), as well as the rights to freedom of "expression, opinion and information (. . .) and the right to freely express ideas by any means, without prior consent" (art. 106 section 2), in accordance with the American Convention on Human Rights.

AMARC-ALC considers both the inclusion of limits on media concentration and the obligation of the state to not only recognise community broadcasters, but also to aid in the creation of community-based media under conditions of equal opportunity, to be major advances in the development of the new draft Constitution. The new draft Constitution also includes stipulations with regard to media workers' rights and rights of reply and rectification.

Journalists' associations and local groups that AMARC-ALC consulted expressed their satisfaction with the changes made to a clause relating to truthfulness and responsibility, which in the original draft contained elements that could have negatively impacted freedom of expression. The new draft Constitution still includes the same principles but it states that enforcement of the principles will be carried out by application of the ethical norms of journalists and media organisations and self-regulation by the media.

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