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Court rejects Globovisión journalists' intervention against US$2.1 million fine

(IPYS-Venezuela/IFEX) - On December 7, 2011, the First Court of the Caracas Administrative Disputes Tribunal ruled as inadmissible the intervention of 59 journalists from the Globovisión TV channel. Said journalists were acting as deponents in the legal proceeding disputing a fine imposed on Globovisión by the Board on Social Responsibility of the National Commission on Telecommunications (CONATEL in Spanish) of Venezuela.

The legal department of Globovisión said that the fine is a breach of its right to freedom of speech. The legal action that resulted in the fine was based on information broadcast by Globovisión during the El Rodeo jail standoff earlier this year.

The Court, however, basing its judgement on a resolution issued by the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice in 2005, ruled that freedom of speech is guaranteed only for people engaged in political activities or who work with political organizations, who are entitled to express themselves without limitation.

Article 57 of Venezuela's Constitution sets forth that "all individuals have the right to express their thoughts, ideas or opinions, by any means of communication, without censorship".

Moreover, Globovisión's legal counsel stated that freedom of speech is a right set forth in international agreements on human rights signed and ratified by Venezuela, although said argument was also ruled as inadmissible based on decision 1942 of the Supreme Court of Justice issued in 2003, which argued that national jurisdiction is not subordinated to international treaties.

Mr. Ricardo Antela, legal representative of Globovisión, said that the decision was made on the grounds that the 59 journalists were not physically present in the Court when the lawsuit was filed. However, the reason for this was that the Court security personnel requested that Mr. Antela enter with only eight of the 60 plaintiffs.

The TV station has requested that the court suspend the fine, Mr. Antela said. The fine against Globovisión is for US$2.1 million.

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