Miami (December 30, 2011)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today praised eight universities in Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua and Peru for the excellence of their research regarding the battle against impunity surrounding crimes against journalists in the Western Hemisphere.
The work by the universities responded to a call by the IAPA to 22 centers of higher education in Latin America as part of its Impunity Project, sponsored since 1995 by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.
The universities had to carry out research during a semester in their respective countries and make recommendations for reforms of public policies to combat impunity. The research, directed at highlighting cases of particular study in their countries was conducted by an inter-disciplinary team made up of students and professors. The results of the research were presented and discussed at the Universities Hemisphere Conference “Public Policies to Combat Impunity” that the IAPA held in Puebla, Mexico, in August this year.
As part of this recognition representatives of the eight universities have been invited to participate in a conference titled “The Inter-American System and Freedom of Expression” that the IAPA is to hold in Washington, DC, in late March in conjunction with American University, Stanford University and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
Following are the names of the universities concerned, the year of their founding, the title of the research and a description of their main recommendations:
Centro Universitário Metodista (IPA-POA), Porto Alegre, Rio Grande do Sul, Brazil; 1923. “Effectiveness of the Policies for the Protection of Defenders of Human Rights and for the Safety of Journalists.” It seeks a widening to all states of the Witnesses and Human Rights Protection Program and the creation of alliances among organizations devoted to defense of journalists in order to obtain greater dissemination of the National Protection Program.
Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (PUJ), Bogotá, Colombia; 1623. “Guarantees and Strategies for an Effective Investigation and Redress in Crimes Against Journalists.” It notes the needs for a reform of the military Penal Code for cases of the murder of journalists committed by members of the military to be removed from military criminal jurisdiction; that there be allowed the presence as civil participants of journalists and press associations during investigation and trial, and that there be moral redress, award of damages and rehabilitation for victims’ family members.
Universidad de Antioquia de Colombia (UdeA), Medellín, Colombia; 1801. “Have Legislative Advances Contributed to Lessening Impunity?” It suggests the formation of alliances among state media institutions to deal with difficulties concerning crimes against the press; creation of Associations of Consumers and Defenders of Press Freedom to develop networks of support and awareness, and the encouragement of academic debate within and among universities on the importance of the press in a democracy.
Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez (UACJ), Chihuahua, Mexico; 1973. “Between Impunity and Lack of Safety at Work: The Joint Responsibility of News Companies.” It recommends creation of protocols of protection and safety for journalists, improvements in their working conditions, the drawing up of a general code of ethics and a database on violence. It proposes that news companies arrange temporary refuge in the United States to provide shelter for journalists at risk.
Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara (UAG), Jalisco, Mexico; 1935. “The Need to Create New Federal Institutions to Combat Impunity.” It notes the need to create an Ombudsman’s office for journalists to aid in tasks concerning the protection of and the watching over of journalists’ rights, and establishment of a special prosecutor’s office within the Mexican Attorney General’s Office to directly take up and prosecute in cases of reports concerning freedom of expression violations.
Universidad de Ciencias Comerciales (UCC), Managua, Nicaragua; 1964. “The Non-Existence of an Adequate Body of Law to Combat Impunity.” It says that there should be legislation on fulfillment of an effective minimum sentence so that a convicted person cannot be granted parole. It also suggests a digital history account with factual information on each murder and its degree of impunity, which would be posted on the Web sites of universities and press organizations.
Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas (UPC), Lima, Peru; 1960. “The Value of Evidence in Legal Proceedings and Its Relationship with Impunity.” It suggests the application of a new Criminal Code to incorporate or take into account the results of investigative reporting rigorously carried out in evaluating evidence. It also recommends a need to generate interaction among news media, press associations, schools of communication, the judiciary and Attorney General’s Office.
Universidad Iberoamericana (UNIBE), Higuey, Dominican Republic; 1982. “The Impact of the Narciso González Case Before the Inter-American Human Rights Court and Its Influence on Policies at a National Level.” It recommends the creation of a State Attorney’s Office for Freedom of Expression and of the Press, and the drafting of a Press Code that provides for punishment of those whose act against freedom of expression, putting emphasis on actions to protect journalists and news media.
To see the full text of the research, the universities’ recommendations and conclusions go to www.impunidad.com/conferencias_pdfs.php?idioma=sp.
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 print publications from throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida. The IAPA Impunity Project is funded by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation and has the mission of combating violence against journalists and lessening the impunity surrounding the majority of such crimes. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org; http://www.impunidad.com.