08 September 2015

IAPA hails Inter-American Court ruling on Venezuela’s RCTV

It calls on Venezuelan government to return the television channel to its legitimate owners MIAMI, Florida (September 8, 2015)—The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) today welcomed a ruling by the Inter-American Human Rights Court in favor of return of Canal 2 television channel to the broadcast station Radio Caracas Television (RCTV) and urged the Venezuelan government to comply with the order and act on the ruling immediately. IAPA President Gustavo Mohme praised the Court’s ruling, which he said “does justice by handing this media outlet back to those from whom it had been usurped unlawfully and in a discriminatory manner after they fell out of favor with the government for practicing an unfettered, critical and independent journalism.” Mohme, editor of the Lima, Peru, newspaper La República, added that the threats to RCTV and its employees since long before the channel was confiscated and its equipment stolen “demonstrate just how ruthless a government can be when it wants to cut off the public’s right to information.” The Court ruling on the Marcel Granier and Others versus Venezuela case dates from June 22, but it was announced just yesterday (September 7) http://www/corteidh.or.cr/casos.cfm. The Court ruled that the government must reestablish Canal 2’s frequency concession since what RCTV was broadcasting, return the confiscated material assets, pay compensation for material and intangible damages, pay back costs and expenses, carry out allocation of frequencies in a transparent manner, and produce a report, within one year, on the measures taken to comply with the ruling. The chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, Claudio Paolillo, regarded this as “an exemplary victory, as beyond recognizing the legitimate behavior of a media outlet independent of the government and uncovering the oppression of the Venezuelan regime the Court ordered that the processes of assignment and renewal of frequencies ‘be conducted openly, independently and transparently’ from now onwards.” Paolillo, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, declared, “Here is shown a rigorous path that should be followed by all the governments in the Inter-American system, as in many countries we have warned that there are obscure processes in which the assignments are manipulated in order to reward or punish media and their owners depending on their affinity with the government.” “It is time for the government to comply with the ruling and thus return RCTV’s signal, so restoring in this way the part of the freedom of the press and of expression that Venezuelans have lost,” declared Mohme and Paolillo. According to the Court the violation of freedom of expression carried out by the government of the late president Hugo Chávez and continued by his successor, Nicolás Maduro, impacted on the right of the channel’s employees and executives, and of the people, “who saw themselves deprived of having access to the editorial stance that RCTV represented” considering that “the diversity of media or information is an effective guarantee of freedom of expression.” The decision to not renew the concession “sought to silence voices critical of the government,” the Court declared. During the lengthy court hearing the IAPA submitted two amicus curiae (friend of the court) petitions to the Inter-American Court regarding the RCTV case. In May 2014 it requested that it rule against the Venezuelan government’s decision not to renew the RCTV concession and that it require the government to pay damages for the seizure of assets, then used for another governmental media outlet. In July 2008 the IAPA had come out in defense of a group of RCTV journalists in the “Luisiana Ríos and others” case. The RCTV case dates back to May 27, 2007, when on the direct orders of then president Chávez the government shut down the on-air signal broadcast station and confiscated its 48 repeater stations and broadcast equipment. 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.