Miami (June 29, 2017).- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) expressed its satisfaction with Organization of American States (OAS) resolution which demands that governments make a commitment to offering guarantees for freedom of expression and the safety of journalists, stating that "it is time to act."
The OAS resolution "Right to freedom of thought and expression and the safety of journalists and media workers," condemns the killings, acts of aggression and other acts of violence against journalists and press workers. It encourages all governments to implement preventive measures, provide protection, and investigate and punish the individuals responsible for those acts in order to put an end to impunity.
Matt Sanders, president of the IAPA and Roberto Rock, president of the Freedom of the Press and Information Committee, congratulated the OAS for adopting the resolution to combat violence against the press, which reaffirms another resolution passed in 1998. "Both documents should serve as a signal in the region that there is a real commitment to protect journalists and defend freedom of expression."
Nevertheless, Sanders, senior editor of Deseret Digital Media from Salt Lake City, Utah, and Rock, editor of the La Silla Rota portal from Mexico, declared that "resolutions are not enough without the political will to give them some teeth; put them into practice with financial and human resources."
"If everything is reduced to statements – they lamented – we will find ourselves facing another demagogical way out where governments simply make public statements but take no action." Sanders and Rock, addressed governments of the region stating that "it is time to act." They added that "in addition to the commitment of the member states of the OAS, actions are essential to ensure the effectiveness of the resolutions."
The document was adopted during the General Assembly celebrated by the OAS last week in Cancun, Mexico. It highlights the exercise of the right to freedom of opinion and expression within a democracy, and the role of journalists, who, finding themselves exposed to acts of aggression and facing dangers to their physical safety, stop their work of informing, thus also depriving society of public interest information.
Almost 20 years ago, back in 1998, the OAS adopted its first resolution on this topic after the 1997 international conference on Unpunished Crimes Against Journalists organized by the IAPA in Guatemala. That resolution, "Assaults Upon Freedom of the Press and Crimes Against Journalists" condemned attacks against the exercise of freedom of the press and crimes against journalists, urging governments to implement more in-depth measures to investigate and punish any such crimes.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defense and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida.