Escalation of Legal Actions

ESCALATION OF LEGAL ACTIONS WHEREAS in recent years there has been a dangerous escalation of legal actions against journalists in the hemisphere because of the material it deals with, the press is particularly vulnerable to those who want to abuse their ability to bring legal actions against it and for that reason judges should exercise extreme care not to break the delicate balance the press requires to report the news adequately many of these actions stem from a wish to intimidate the press rather than protest alleged legal offenses, a situation that is even more critical in countries where journalists are liable to prison sentences there have been cases of verdicts with monetary awards that intimidate the journalists and threaten the company's solvency with the risk of causing self-censorship and inhibiting the necessary inquisitive nature of journalism there have been cases of people who make this a business, filing legal actions not to gain compensation they are entitled to, but monetary profits at the expense of the press isolated cases of collusion between the government and the judiciary have made justice a shameful and perverse tool for government oppression of independent journalism Principle 4 of the Declaration of Chapultepec rejects intimidation of journalists which severely restricts freedom of press and of expression and, according to that article, must be investigated promptly and punished harshly. THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY OF THE IAPA RESOLVES to inform the community and members of the judiciaries of the hemisphere that the escalation of legal actions today is one of the most serious forms of aggression against press freedom in the Americas to call on the hemisphere's judicial systems, without asking for special treatment, to reflect on the improper reasons that often motivate legal actions against the press and consider the consequences for society of rulings that in one way or another could interfere unfairly with the practice of journalism to urge the news companies that are members of the IAPA, in compliance with Article 4 of the Declaration of Chapultepec, to report and investigate cases of abuse and intimidation by unscrupulous citizens, of situations where such abuses might be suspected, and, especially, cases of collusion between the government and the judiciary, identifying those who are responsible and not giving up until they have been adequately punished to call on the regional vice presidents to give special attention to investigating and reporting legal actions that constitute attacks on press freedom to instruct the Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information to send special missions to countries where there are the most serious attacks on press freedom through excessive or irregular legal actions to instruct the Secretariat to widely disseminate this resolution either directly or through the regional vice chairmen and member news companies, especially to members of the judiciary and lawyers' professional associations.