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Inter-American Court called on to rule against Venezuela for unlawful RCTV shutdown

On 20 May 2014, the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) asked the Inter-American Human Rights Court to rule against the Venezuelan government for the unlawful shutdown of Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) broadcasting company in 2007. The request came after the submission of the amicus curiae brief, which the Court is due to hold a hearing on at the end of the month.

In the name of the IAPA the organization's president, Elizabeth Ballantine, in coordination with the Press Freedom and Legal Affairs Committees, invited the “Inter-American Human Rights Court to rule against the Venezuelan government's decision to halt RCTV's license and retaliate against it for its editorial stance- a flagrant violation of the principles of freedom of expression established in the American Convention.”

The case before the Court concerns Marcel Granier and other shareholders, members of the Board of Directors and/or journalists of RCTV, a media outlet that began broadcasting in 1953, “whose license, according to report No. 112/12 of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was not renewed by the government in 2007 in reprisal for their critical editorial stance and reports against the government,” the IAPA declared in its opinion.

The IAPA also said that “through precautionary measures presented by social organizations … the Constitutional Tribunal of the Supreme Court ordered the impoundment, without indemnity, of all RCTV platforms, with the aim of securing the immediate operation of a television signal.”

The government, under direct orders from former President, Hugo Chávez Frías, shut down the RCTV's open signal and confiscated its 48 repeater stations and broadcast equipment. A new public TV channel began operating after the station's equipments were disconnected. Televisora Venezolana Social (TVes), sponsored principally by the Venezuelan government, is using the frequencies that RCTV previously had and is operating throughout the country using the broadcast equipment belonging to it.

The IAPA has a long history of submitting opinions and creating initiatives at the Inter-American Court and Commission.

To the Court it presented arguments, among others, in the following cases: Ricardo Canese, Paraguay, in February 2004; the newspaper La Nación and journalist Mauricio Herrera Ulloa, Costa Rica, in March 2004; Gabriela Perozo, Aloys Marín, Oscar Dávila Pérez and other Globovisión, Venezuela, journalists, in April 2008; Luisiana Ríos and other journalists and employees of Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV), Venezuela, in July 2008; right to rectification that resulted in the Consultative Opinion OC-7/86 of 1986 and on the obligatory membership of journalists in a guild, which wound up in Consultative Opinion OC-85 of 1985.

With the Inter-American Commission the IAPA also filed an amicus curiae brief on the case v. The Gleaner Company and Dudley Stokes of Jamaica in April 2004, and to that body has submitted the results of investigations into 29 unpunished murders of journalists committed in Bolivia, Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Mexico and Paraguay. Of these cases 14 were admitted.

View the amicus curiae brief in the RCTV case

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