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IAPA celebrates 15th anniversary of Declaration of Chapultepec

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 12 March 2009 IAPA press release:

IAPA celebrates 15th anniversary of Declaration of Chapultepec: "The little document that could"

Miami, March 12, 2009 - The IAPA today calls on citizens across the Americas to protect transparency and freedom of expression to mark the 15th anniversary of The Declaration of Chapultepec. Sponsored by the IAPA and the McCormick Foundation and drafted by 100 private citizens, the document was adopted and signed on March 11, 1994 in the castle of the same name in Mexico City.

The Chapultepec Declaration's 10 principles were the first to define freedom of expression and establish the right to information as part of the basic human right of freedom of expression.

"Over the past 15 years it has become a major point of reference for freedom of expression" in the view of Santiago Cantón, former OAS Rapporteur for Press Freedom and current Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States (OAS). "Although it carries no legal standing, it carries authority": to date 53 heads of state and hundreds of judges, legislators and officials have signed the declaration committing to uphold its principles. Public forums and a website ( http://www.declaraciondechapultepec.org/v2/english/index.asp ) have gathered pledges from more than 75,000 citizens.

IAPA president Enrique Santos, of "El Tiempo" newspaper, Bogotá, Colombia, reflected on the significance of the Declaration: "The Declaration of Chapultepec defined the last decade of IAPA activities which, in turn, have changed the way citizens and governments perceive and protect press freedom. For the first time, its ten clearly stated principles provided national leaders with the tools to pass transparency legislation in 12 countries, establish international standards in case law and apply them in numerous freedom of expression cases and eliminate special protections against criticism for elected officials in 8 countries. These accomplishments more than validate the efforts of our members who have carried out the Chapultepec Program with such dedication."

Chapultepec Committee Chairman Bartolomé Mitre, of La Nación, Buenos Aires, Argentina added, "I can think of no higher honor to the IAPA than to have contributed to these advances in almost every country in our hemisphere. To its credit, the program also took an introspective look at the responsibilities of journalism in a democracy and worked for three years to ascribe a set of guidelines to the Declaration. Without a doubt, milestones have been set. Just as clearly, our work is not over, so let me take this opportunity to assure the citizens of the Americas that the IAPA will continue its unrestricted support of this valuable program".

Besides President Bartolomé Mitre, IAPA Chapultepec Committee members include Vice Presidents Luis F. Etchevehere, El Diario, Argentina; Juan Pablo Illanes, El Mercurio, Chile; Special Advisor Susan McClatchy and members Asdrubal Aguiar, El Impulso, Venezuela; Armando Castilla, Vanguardia, Mexico; Edgardo Dumas, La Tribuna, Honduras; Jose Roberto Dutriz, La Prensa Grafica, El Salvador; Carlos Perez Barriga, El Universo, Ecuador and Guido Rodriguez, Panamá-America, Panamá. Funding for the Chapultepec program is provided by IAPA members, the McCormick Foundation and the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

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