05 May 2013

Rechazo a censura previa en Uruguay

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Miami (May 4, 2013)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today complained to the government of Uruguay and to a privately-owned television station of an act of prior censorship carried out this week against journalist Miguel Nogueira, who was recently fired by the state television service Televisión Nacional de Uruguay (TNU), where he co-hosted the program “Poder Ciudadano” (Citizen Power).

On Monday, April 29 Nogueira had been asked to give testimony about his firing from TNU in the program “Algo contigo” (Something With You) broadcast by Canal 4 television. As the recording of the interview to be aired two days later was under way, an employee of the station came into the studio and ordered it be cancelled.

Aplican censura previa contra Miguel Nogueira.
(Foto Diario Uruguay)

“They called us from above, we have to cut the piece.” The employee explained that “the Ministry of Education and Culture had called.” The taping was indeed halted and the interview with Nogueira was never broadcast.

The journalists union “APU” issued a press release condemning both the government and the station for the act of censorship. However, Education and Culture Minister Ricardo Ehrlich denied his Ministry had any responsibility, saying it had “a firm commitment to freedom of the press.”

Nevertheless, both union leaders and the host of the program, Luis Alberto Carballo, said that there indeed had been a call to Canal 4 from the TNU because its director, Virginia Martínez, was annoyed at the presence of a mobile unit of the privately-owned station that was seeking to interview her while Nogueira was being interviewed in the studios.

TNU is a dependency of the Ministry of Education and Culture according to its official Web site.

“There was a clear act of prior censorship in which government officials and the privately-owned station that had invited the journalist had participated,” said Claudio Paolillo, Chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information. “Some say that the pressure on the station came from the Ministry of Education and Culture and others that it was from the state-owned station, TNU, which is a dependency of it.”

Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, added, “We do not know what the truth is, but what is certain is that after a government show of annoyance, the privately-owned station bowed to the pressure and the interview was not broadcast. Both the official pressure and the acceptance of that pressure are deplorable.” He invited Minister Ehrlich “to investigate more in-depth what happened so that it does not occur again.”

Paolillo recalled that the IAPA-inspired Declaration of Chapultepec warns that “pressures,” “prior censorship” and “the imposition of obstacles to the free flow of news … directly contradict freedom of the press.” He added that the Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression adopted in October 2000 by the Organization of American States’ Inter-American Commission on Human Rights declares that “Prior censorship, direct or indirect interference in or pressure exerted upon any expression, opinion or information transmitted through any means of oral, written, artistic, visual or electronic communication must be prohibited by law” and that “restrictions to the free circulation of ideas and opinions … violate the right to freedom of expression.”

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. For more information please go to http://www.sipiapa.org.

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