WHEREAS violations of, affronts to, and various forms of threats to freedom of expression and press freedom continue in Venezuela through the actions of all the branches of government WHEREAS in an October 23, 2002 press release addressing the severe political crisis in Venezuela, Secretary General César Gaviria of the Organization of American States noted that “now, more than ever, there is an urgent need to overcome… the limitations placed on freedom of expression through threats and harassment” WHEREAS the joint mission of the IAPA and International Press Institute to Caracas in September 2002 observed and concluded that there are threats to, and systematic violations of, the exercise of freedom of expression and press freedom in Venezuela WHEREAS in addition to Ruling 1013 of the Venezuelan Supreme Court’s Constitutional Division, which restricts rights of free expression and the public’s right to be informed, government officials are now pushing for enactment of a Content Law that would sharply curtail the free exercise of expression and press freedom WHEREAS Venezuela’s National Assembly recently opened debate on a draft Citizen Participation Act that would create a National Mass Media Oversight Council with the power to impose penalties on media outlets that fail to report in a “true and impartial” manner WHEREAS The Venezuelan Government has not complied with the measures adopted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights requiring protection of the rights to life and personal integrity, and the right of freedom of expression and of the press, of publishers, editors and journalists of Venezuela’s mass media outlets WHEREAS news photographer Jorge Tortoza of Bloque de Armas was murdered on April 11, 2002, and physical assaults and abuse of various journalists by the “Bolivarian Circles” – irregular street shock troops under the political control of government supporters – have increased several times over in the months since then; specifically, the following journalists have been injured or received specific death threats: Gabriel Osorio of Revista Primicia; Olivia Ojeda and Winston Duran of Yaracuy Hoy; Antonio Monroy, David Pérez Jansen and Argenis Uribe of RCTV (Canal 2); José Angel Ocanto of Diario El Impulso; Roxana Díaz, Felipe Lugo, Ana Karina Villalba, Aymara Di Lorenzo and Martha Palma Troconis de Globovisión (Canal 33); Carlos Briceño and Eduardo Sanchez of Diario El Carabobeño; Jairo Altuve, Dorian Esteves and Diosirys Obregón of Notitarde; Mauro Acosta and Luis Alfonso Fernández of VeneVisión; Leslie Pedreañez, Elianta Quintero and Johan Merchán of Televen (Canal 10); Alicia La Rotta and Gustavo Rodríguez of Diario El Universal; Omar Veliz of El Siglo; Maria Alejandra Monagas and Carlos Meza of Ultimas Noticias WHEREAS Venezuela’s president is still making direct threats to permanently suspend the transmission signals of private radio and television media outlets, because of disagreement with their news content WHEREAS Principles 1 and 5 of the Declaration of Chapultepec declare that “No people or society can be free without freedom of expression and of the press; the exercise of this freedom is not something authorities grant, it is an inalienable right of the people;” and that “Prior censorship, restrictions on the circulation of the media or dissemination of their reports, forced publication of information, the imposition of obstacles to the free flow of news, and restrictions on the activities and movements of journalists directly contradict freedom of the press” THE IAPA GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLVES to roundly condemn the conduct of the administration and other branches of Venezuela’s government for systematically violating the freedom of expression and of the press within the meaning of the Declaration of Chapultepec and the OAS Declaration of Principles on the Freedom of Expression to urge the administration and other branches of Venezuela’s government to conduct themselves with greater regard for such freedoms, and to provide such protections as are indispensable for the exercise of press freedom in that country to demand that the Government of Venezuela comply with the measures adopted by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to protect publishers, editors and journalists to respectfully recommend to the Government of Venezuela that it seek an advisory opinion from the Inter-American Human Rights Court on the draft Content Law and Citizen Participation Act, to determine whether they are compatible with the rules of the Inter-American Convention on Human Rights.