28 December 2015

IAPA Year-End Message


Miami (Dec. 28, 20015).- While 2015 has brought about some positive political changes that we hope will help foster more respect for freedom of the press and freedom of expression, it has also had a sadly familiar darker side with the murders of more journalists. In Ecuador there's a new constitutional amendment that establishes communication as a public service. In some countries there exists a change in the extent of power. The Executive Branch in Argentina and the new Legislative Branch in Venezuela now have the challenge of correcting systematic attacks on press freedom by previous administrations, for example, enacting laws on access to public information that reaffirm the public's right to information.

Our major attention was focused on the serious problem being faced by the profession. This year 20 journalists have been murdered. These crimes were committed in Brazil (6), Colombia (4), Mexico (4), Guatemala (2), Honduras (2), Paraguay (1) and Dominican Republic (1). They require us to continue fighting for justice and pressuring governments for them to create systems of protection and safety, and in that way offer the constitutional guarantees that they are obliged to respect.

This year we welcomed the fact that the Inter-American Human Rights System is attending to several murder cases, including that of Colombian journalist Nelson Carvajal, who was killed in 1998. We hope that justice prevails and legal precedents are established to assist in the ongoing fight against impunity.

In the coming year we will continue to defend against attacks on the media and journalists, such as the discriminate placement of government advertising to punish critical and independent media; the harassment or legal and juridical pursuit of journalists, and the wrongful distribution of propaganda through government controlled news media. We remain convinced that any attack upon freedom of the press minimizes the value of democracy and restricts the pursuit of the common good.

Our agenda also includes following up the Quito Action Plan, emanating from the forum held in Ecuador in September; our membership meetings in the Dominican Republic and in Mexico; and the dispatch of press freedom missions to various countries. Our commitment is shared by the other organizations belonging to the Press Freedom Organizations Coordinating Committee, which will soon meet in Paris to establish new guidelines for joint action.

As I said on assuming the presidency in October, we remain committed both to strengthening IAPA's membership and to more effectively addressing our industry's many challenges. One of our key events of the year will be hosting the second-annual digital media conference in June 2016. SipConnect showcases our strategies for helping media throughout the hemisphere monetize digital content and develop bigger audiences.

Finally, we will begin 2016 with a renewed resolve and commitment to our primary mission as established in the Declaration of Chapultepec: to promote and defend freedom of the press throughout the Americas.

I wish you all a safe, happy and prosperous New Year.