26 August 2011


DECLARATION OF PUEBLA The participants in the Hemisphere Conference of Universities, held by the Inter American Press Association in Puebla, committed to propose reforms to public policies designed to combat violence against journalists and the impunity surrounding such crimes.
Hemisphere Conference of Universities Organized by the Inter American Press Association DECLARATION OF PUEBLA Puebla, Mexico August 25-26, 2011 The participants in the Hemisphere Conference of Universities, held by the Inter American Press Association in Puebla, committed to propose reforms to public policies designed to combat violence against journalists and the impunity surrounding such crimes. The participants believe that the assaults upon freedom of expression are evident not only through physical attacks on journalists but also through statements hostile to the free practice of journalism, threats, censorship, judicial harassment and discrediting the press. In attacking this fundamental right violence is a problem not only for members of the press but for all of society, which loses its right to receive information. With the objective of creating a network of universities in Latin America to collaborate in the improvement of academic practices and help future members of the press work in a safer environment, as well as to promote changes in governments’ public policies, the teams of students and professors from the schools of Communication, Law, Sociology and Social Science, and Politics of 22 universities in 13 countries recommend: 1. That in the legal field: The nations include in their laws that attacks upon freedom of expression are crimes that are not subject to any statute of limitations; that when these attacks are committed by public officials that penalties befortified; that these crimes be investigated at the federal level and judged by civil courts. The laws require the state to investigate with due diligence (on public initiative) those cases that demonstrate violation of press freedom and offenses against freedom of expression, and that they include the protection of judges and public prosecutors working on cases of murdered journalists. States include in their legislation the obligation to reopen investigations or legal proceedings following censure by international institutions. International human rights’ treaties and conventions signed by the countries be applied, in addition to those recognized within the national legal system. Public prosecutors, Public Safety or Justice Ministers and judges be aware of, apply and aid in the investigations and legal proceedings, in accordance with international case law criteria and signed agreements and treaties on Human Rights. Attorneys General or Justice Ministers create specialized units to investigate cases of attacks upon freedom of expression. Defamation, libel and slander be decriminalized. Countries pass specific legislation providing protection to defenders of Human Rights, and that these include journalists, and in those countries where such laws exist or are in the process of being adopted their publication and application be demanded. Countries include in their legislation specific measures regarding the detention of journalists while they are reporting under conditions of risk, so that the authorities set them free once their identify is verified, and that their equipment be safeguarded and returned to them without delay. In the event of non-compliance by the authorities there be legal penalities. The laws determine the responsibility of the state to make reparations for harm to reputation and material damages that lead to the murder of a journalist while carrying out his or her work and to provide psychological assistance to family members and ensure their safety. The law establish that when a journalist is attacked the authorities be required to verify whether the motive for such attack was his or her work as a journalist. Criminal law provide for penalties for public officials who obstruct the work of journalists or engage in concrete actions against freedom of expression. Programs of Protection and Assistance to Victims and witnesses to crimes committed against journalists be created or improved, that governments be responsible, with the added support of non-governmental organizations and universities, for offering legal and psychological assistance, among other measures. There be enacted and/or applied access to information laws; that the position of Defender of Freedom of Expression be created in order that citizens and journalists have recourse to make this right effective. Under the responsibility of the state and with the support of civil organizations there be set up houses of refuge for at-risk journalists who need to go into self-exile. 2. That in the institutional field: The news media ensure decent working conditions, salary and protection for all their employees, guided by the principles set forth in the Declaration of Chapultepec of 1994 and the Declaration of Medellín of 2007; that among these rights there be guaranteed compliance with regulations on social security, life insurance, disability and medical expenses. Universities, in agreement with the media, establish rules of respect for working conditions and the wellbeing of young students working as interns in newsrooms. The news media draft, disseminate and put into practice ethical principles for reporting on dangerous assignments in order to insure that through good practices risk is reduced or situations of vulnerability are prevented. There be encouraged a full and in-depth debate among news media and journalists about the role and importance of the work of the press and its relationship with its sources, and that the results of that discussion be incorporated into the news media’s principles and codes of ethics. The news media adopt manuals for at-risk reporting that establish mechanisms and procedures for preventing and avoiding violence toward their journalists. The news media be encouraged to create the position of Ombudsman, which would stimulate reflection on the role of the press. 3. That in the social field: Organizations for the defense of journalists discuss protection policies, recognizing those professionals as promoters and defenders of human rights and freedom of expression, designing Programs of Protection, disseminating them where they already exist and organizing public awareness campaigns. NGOs educate on the importance of the press’ role and defend the right to information and human rights by means of campaigns, seminars and conferences. Involve civil society and human rights organizations in denouncing and reporting threats, attacks and murders of journalists and any person exercising his or her right to freedom of opinion and of expression. 4. That in the university field: Civil organizations and journalists’ labor unions act in concert with universities to construct a database of victims and denunciations of attacks on freedom of expression in each country, and provide a space to measure, observe and support the work of the press. A map be maintained with the reports received regarding attacks upon freedom of expression in each country, and that these documents be sent to officials of the Executive branch of government, security forces, educational sectors and news media in order to implement and encourage, with the participation of journalism schools, the creation of concrete public policies and changes in legislation to protect the work of the press. Universities include in their curricula, including Schools of Communication, Law, Political Science, Sociology and Psychology, among others, the study of Criminal Law and Criminal Proceedings, as well as discussions on freedom of expression and press freedom and analysis of ethics in the work of the press. Universities hold forums, seminars and roundtable discussions with representatives of the judiciary, public prosecutors, journalists and students to discuss protection of press freedom and freedom of expression; to make everyone aware of the importance of transparency in criminal investigations and proceedings; to evaluate the possibility of including press reports as evidence in case files, and to analyze the causes behind the absence of the application of laws and the lack of results of investigative and judicial agencies, in order to identify solutions. There be created networks to investigate the issue of safety in the journalism profession through joint efforts with institutions of higher learning. Schools of Psychology implement special programs to aid journalists and their families who are victims of violence. Awareness of the role of journalists in the defense of freedom of expression and of the press be promoted through the distribution of their publications and museums depicting the history of journalism. There be encouragement for local and state-level seminars among the various schools to publicize the conclusions of this Conference to other institutions and student communities of the countries involved. There be formed an inter-university organization to exchange information, promote anti-impunity campaigns and continue the work of this Conference. Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina Pontificia Universidad Católica of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil Centro Universitario Metodista, Porto Alegre, Brazil Universidad Diego Portales, Chile Pontificia Universidad Javeriana of Colombia Universidad de Antioquia, Colombia Universidad Técnica Particular of Loja, Ecuador Universidad Francisco Marroquín, Guatemala Universidad José Cecilio del Valle, Honduras Universidad Autónoma de Ciudad Juárez, Mexico Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Mexico Universidad Autónoma de Guadalajara, México Universidad de Guadalajara, México Instituto Tecnológico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey, Mexico Universidad Popular Autónoma del Estado de Puebla, Mexico Benemérita Universidad Autónoma de Puebla, Mexico Universidad Autónoma de Sinaloa, Mexico Universidad de Ciencias Comerciales, Nicaragua Universidad Católica, Paraguay Universidad Peruana de Ciencias Aplicadas, Peru Universidad Iberoamericana, Dominican Republic Universidad Católica Andrés Bello, Venezuela.