Cuba: IAPA expresses solidarity with Cuban reporter under house arrest for working in journalism

Sol García Basulto, of La Hora de Cuba and correspondent of 14ymedio, is acussed of alleged "encroachment of legal capacity" for "carrying out interviews".

IAPA expresses solidarity with Cuban reporter under house arrest for working in journalism

The organization rejects regulation of journalism in Honduras

MIAMI, Florida (July 25, 2017)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today strongly rejected regulation of the practice of journalism as occurs in Cuba, where a female journalist is under house arrest and faces along with a colleague charges for practicing the profession.

In Cuba journalist Sol García Basulto, of the Camagüey magazine La Hora de Cuba and correspondent in that city of the news Web site 14ymedio, is under house arrest since yesterday. She was summoned on Monday (July 24) by local police for reporting on "developments" regarding her accusation of alleged "encroachment of legal capacity" imposed in March this year for "carrying out interviews on the street and publishing them in the magazine."

The agent in charge of her case warned her to hire a lawyer and declared – in response to a question from her – that Henry Constantín Ferreiro, editor of La Hora de Cuba, would be later notified about the proceedings. Constantín Ferreiro, vice chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information for Cuba, was accused of the same offense, punished in that country with loss of freedom for three months to one year or a fine.

The chairman of the IAPA's Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Roberto Rock, editor of La Silla Rota of Mexico, expressed his solidarity with the Cuban colleagues who "are continuing to suffer the terrible consequences of what a regulating society implies and in the case of García Basulto and Constantín Ferreiro they face the possibility of imprisonment for exercising their right to gather information and disseminate it through a news media outlet, a human right protected by numerous international treaties."

In the face of this incident the IAPA took advantage to insist on its opposition to the obligatory guild membership and to the requirement of a university degree in order to work as a journalist. In that regard it reacted negatively to a recent pronouncement by the Journalists Guild of Honduras that is lobbying for "regulation of the professional practice of journalism," a demand on news companies that they "only hire journalists with the corresponding university degree or title" and it asks the Attorney General's Office to take legal action for the "offense of usurpation of occupations" against those who work without a degree and are not guild members.

In 1985 in response to a request by the IAPA the government of Costa Rica asked the Inter-American Court for a consultative opinion on the interpretation of Articles 13 and 29 of the American Convention on Human Rights concerning journalists' obligatory guild membership and the compatibility of local laws with those dispositions. The Court ruled "that obligatory guild membership of journalists, in that it impedes the access of any person to the full use of social news media as a vehicle to express oneself or to transmit information, is incompatible with Article 13 of the American Convention on Human Rights."

Following the ruling Costa Rica declared obligatory guild membership to be unconstitutional and there began to be created a trend in the region where several countries eliminated those laws. The IAPA's Declaration of Chapultepec in its Article 8 supports the "strictly voluntary" nature of guild membership, while the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission establishes that "compulsory membership or the requirements of a university degree for the practice of journalism constitute unlawful restrictions of freedom of expression."

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.