Friday, July 31, 2009

Take note since Chavez seems to be leading the way for us

Venezuela: 'Freedom of expression must be limited'

Jul 30 08:22 PM US/EasternBy CHRISTOPHER TOOTHAKERAssociated Press Writer
CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) - Venezuela's top prosecutor insisted Thursday that freedom of expression in Venezuela "must be limited" and proposed legislation that would slap additional restrictions on the country's news media.
The new law would punish the owners of radio stations, television channels and newspapers that have attempted to "cause panic" and "disturb social peace," Attorney General Luisa Ortega said.
It also would punish media owners who "manipulate the news with the purpose of transmitting a false perception of the facts."
"Freedom of expression must be limited," Ortega said.
Ortega urged lawmakers to consider her suggestions as they debate a bill that would punish as-yet-undefined "media crimes." The National Assembly, which is controlled by allies of President Hugo Chavez, is expected to approve the measure in coming months.
Jose Miguel Vivanco, Americas director for Human Rights Watch, warned the proposed legislation "would be a terrible regression for freedom of expression."
"They are trying to increase the penalties for expressions that could be considered offensive for authorities," Vivanco said in an interview broadcast by RCN Radio in Colombia.
Carlos Lauria of the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists called the bill "reminiscent of the dark days of Latin American dictatorships with its archaic provisions for so-called media crimes."
Chavez's administration is slowly tightening its grip over the news media, raising concerns among watchdog and human rights groups that accuse the government of trying to stifle dissent.
Venezuela's telecommunications commission notified 50 radio stations earlier this week that their broadcast licenses could be revoked because they failed to update their registrations. Commission chief Diosdado Cabello said a final determination on the licenses will be made following investigations. He said authorities might also seize broadcasting equipment.
Nearly 200 other broadcasters that did not meet a June deadline to register also will be investigated, but have not yet been formally notified, Cabello said
Broadcast regulators have also opened a series of investigations into Globovision, the only strongly anti-Chavez channel remaining on the open airwaves.
Station vice president Carlos Alberto Zuloaga accused Chavez on Thursday of "deciding to shut down Globovision."
"He's just looking for the way to diminish the political cost," Zuloaga said at a forum in Washington organized by the libertarian Cato Institute.
Chavez denies that he intends to silence critics, saying his government fully respects freedom of expression.

No comments: