…says action protects right to information of public interest
The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) says that it welcomes the measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in favour of Kaieteur News staff.
Yesterday, IAPA President Gustavo Mohme, Editor of the Lima, Peru, Newspaper La República, expressed pleasure at the IACHR decision. “This is an important message. The action helps to safeguard the journalists, but more than that, it protects the people’s right to receive information of great public interest.”
The IACHR recently ruled that the lives and personal integrity of Glenn Lall, Adam Harris and Leonard Gildarie were in danger after they were threatened for publishing reports of serious wrongdoing by the government.
The government has 15 days to provide the journalists with concrete protection to investigate the matter and report periodically to the IACHR on actions that it will be taking on both matters.
In explaining the basis of its decision, the IACHR said that Kaieteur News had published articles of involvement by senior government officials in secret deals, the sale of public assets and bribery. However, the last straw was contained in a recording of a telephone conversation between Attorney General, Anil Nandlall, and senior reporter, Leonard Gildarie, in which the official threatened the journalist and demanded he stop working or otherwise he and his newspaper would suffer the consequences.
The IACHR noted that following the paper’s formal complaint to the authorities, neither the Attorney General nor the government denied the facts nor was the report investigated or any protection given to the journalists.
Claudio Paolillo, Chairman of the IAPA’s Committee on Freedom of the Press and Information, and Editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, weekly Búsqueda, also stressed the “great preventive character” of the precautionary measures “necessary in a country and in a continent, where there should be more political will and action on the part of governments to investigate murders of journalists and break the vicious circle, where violence and impunity are nourished.”
The IAPA says its attention to the case is due to the background of violence against Kaieteur News.
The media body reminded that five employees of the paper died following a gun attack on the pressroom on August 8, 2006, an incident that at the time was linked to the political climate in the run-up to an election.
The IACHR’s order stemmed from a report made by Christopher Ram following the release of the telephone recording between Attorney General Anil Nandlall and Kaieteur News senior reporter, Leonard Gildarie.
In its findings the human rights body said, “After analyzing the factual and legal arguments put forth by (Christopher Ram), the commission considers that the information presented demonstrates prima facie that the members of Kaieteur News are in a serious and urgent situation, since their lives and personal integrity face an imminent risk of irreparable harm.”
“In the present situation, the Commission considers that the requirement of seriousness is met, in light of the alleged threat expressed against the lives and personal integrity of the Kaieteur News personnel, within the framework of their right to freedom of expression.”
The commission noted, “In particular, the information presented suggests that the purported threat was oriented toward preventing the members of Kaieteur News from freely exercising their role as journalists, related to a series of reports on corruption cases, among other issues, which allegedly affected high ranking officials within the Government.
The IAPA is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the defence and promotion of freedom of the press and of expression in the Americas. It is made up of more than 1,300 print publications throughout the Western Hemisphere and is based in Miami, Florida.
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