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IAPA calls on President Morales to reject clauses in new law that violate press freedom

(IAPA/IFEX) - Miami, October 11, 2010 - In a letter to Bolivia's President Evo Morales, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) insisted adamantly that he eliminate Articles 16 and 23 of the newly-enacted Law Against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination on the grounds that they violate freedom of the press and the public's right to information.

The controversial law is one of the main issues that the IAPA will be look at during its General Assembly in Mérida, Mexico, November 5-9.

The IAPA's letter to the Bolivian head of state was signed by the organization's president, Alejandro Aguirre, editor of the Miami, Florida, Spanish-language newspaper Diario Las Américas, 1st Vice President Gonzalo Marroquín, editor of the Guatemala City, Guatemala, newspaper Prensa Libre, and the chairman of the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Robert Rivard, editor of the San Antonio Express-News, Texas.

Yesterday Pedro Rivero Jordán, editor of the newspaper El Deber, in Santa Cruz, and vice chairman for Bolivia of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, joined a hunger strike initiated over a week ago by journalists nationwide to demand the removal of the two articles from the new law passed last week.

The full text of the letter follows:

"Mr. President,

"On behalf of more than 1,300 publications in the Americas that make up the Inter American Press Association we urge you to overturn Articles 16 and 23 of the Law Against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination, on the grounds that they violate the public's right to information which, together with the equality of all citizens, is precisely the final and primary objective of the new law.

"We regret the serious deterioration of press freedom and the pressure on the public's right to information that this law will mean for Bolivians. We are especially concerned that your government has paid no attention to the journalists, news media, press freedom organizations, labor unions and other sectors of civil society that have come out solidly and unanimously against the these clauses and their upcoming regulation.

"We insist that this statute imposes serious restrictions on press freedom by subjecting the news media to drastic penalties for statements or news items which, although not in accordance with the media outlet's editorial position, have in themselves news value since they may come from sources of public interest or be matters of public interest.

"We urge you to reconsider the enactment of this law that for the good of your country's democracy should not contain clauses that would allow restriction of the free practice of journalism and the public's right to know."

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