VENEZUELA There are two large uncertainties concerning freedom of expression in Venezuela. The Venezuelan Press Bloc is still awaiting a ruling by the Supreme Court on its request that it strike down the Law for the Practice of Journalism, in effect since the end of 1994. The Press Bloc's challenge is in the final stages at the Supreme Court and a ruling is expected at any time. The ruling could have a positive effect on the overturning of obligatory licensing, mirroring the Colombian Supreme Court's repeal of similar provisions. Second, there is concern about articles in the new Code of Criminal Procedure that could limit the ability of print reporters to examine and publish information about criminal investigations. For example, Articles 234 and 236 of Chapter IV severely restrict the publication of information or testimony obtained during a criminal investigation from telephone tapping. Article 112 of the same chapter, titled "Of police criminal investigation units," reads: "Prohibition of reporting: All police officials are forbidden to give information to third parties about their procedures, the results and the orders they must carry out in conformity with this Code. Such an infraction will be punished according to the law." An infraction may be punished with a jail sentence or the dismissal of the official in question. Obviously, if this measure were enforced rigorously, it would make most police reporting impossible. Since this part of the law has not yet taken effect, there are no specific cases or legal precedents to illustrate the prohibition. It is also imperative to stress - just as a possible threat - the difficult situation that could arise in Venezuela after the next election. The board of directors of the Press Bloc wants to note for the record that it believes there is a danger that a strong authoritarian government could take office and that it would inevitably impose press censorship. In addition, in a September 13, 1998, article by Marta Colomina in the daily El Universal with the headline: "Chavez: Bad Omens for Freedom of Expression," the writer notes the emergence of the use of personal threats to pressure journalists. There have been two cases of note in the past six months. In one, Omnivisi6n television Channel 12 said in a report to the IAPA that the National Telecommunications Commission had issued an order banning it from broadcasting news programming. In the other, the government tried to limit posting of election projections on the Internet by newspapers during the final hours of the regional election held on November 8. In the first case, the government alleges that there was a violation of telecommunications regulations, and in the second, of the election law.