Freedom of expression
ARE JOURNALISTS PERSECUTED, THREATENED OR HARASSED BECAUSE OF THE WAY THEY COVER THE NEWS?
- Respected press reporters and conductors of opinion programs, subpoenaed by the Attorney General’s Office and by the Courts, for affecting the Government image.
- Marianella Salazar charged for defamation for having published purported administrative irregularities by the Vice-President of the Republic and the Governor of Miranda.
- Press reporters subpoenaed to reveal information sources regarding Danilo Anderson’s file, an assassinated prosecutor.
- Trespassed Patricia Poleo’s home in search of documents revealing information sources regarding Danilo Anderson’s case.
- Press reporter Patricia Poleo charged for defamation for having published information regarding the Minister of Justice and Internal Affairs.
- Press reporter Ibéyise Pacheco accused by Angel Bellorín, a Colonel (Ej), and charged to 9 months of prison for aggravated and continued defamation.
- Pacheco charged for having made a report based on a recording between Vice-President Rangel and the Ministers Aristóbulo Istúriz and María Cristina Iglesias.
- Press reporter Napoleón Bravo charged for incitement to hatred, when referring to the grandson of the Vice-President of the Republic.
- Inter American Commission of Human Rights (CIDH) declared its concern about the condition of press reporters in Venezuela and ordered protection preventive measures upon them.
- CIDH requests that the Inter American Court of Human Rights urge the Venezuelan State, the adoption of provisional measures to protect reporters’ personal integrity and freedom of speech and press.
- Diaries’ headquarter offices and hundreds of reporters attacked and assaulted during the years 2002, 2003 and 2004, by Government supporters.
1. Recently, a number of well-known journalists and anchor men and women have been ordered to appear before the Public Prosecutor and the Courts of the Republic to testify regarding news that affects the government's image. Some of these are:
- Patricia Poleo, director of the newspaper El Nuevo País, and Tamoa Calzadilla reporter for the newspaper Ultimas Noticias, were summoned to reveal their sources in the investigation carried out by the Public Prosecutor regarding the leaking of documents related to the case of the death of prosecutor Danilo Anderson. In the case of Patricia Poleo, pressure tactics became even more evident when her house was raided by the police in search of documents that might reveal her sources. The journalist was further notified that charges will be brought against her for her allegedly illegal use of information and classified documents related to the Danilo Anderson case.
- When the newspaper El Nuevo País published a photo of a person identified as the Minster of the Interior and of Justice, Jesse Chacon, bent over a dead body at the headquarters of the TV station Venezolana de Television, the Minister filed a suit for libel against Patricia Poleo, arguing that he was not the person in the photograph. Following a brief trial Patricia Poleo was sentenced to six months in jail. As it was a first offence the sentence was later suspended, however Ms Poleo was forced to pay the total costs of the trial and to publish the sentence twice, with an interval of seven days, in the newspapers El Nuevo Pais and El Nacional.
Ibéyise Pacheco, a reporter for the newspaper El Nacional and anchor woman for a radio opinion program, was sentenced to nine months in jail following a suit for libel brought against her by Colonel Angel Bellorin.
Pacheco was also charged by Office 56 of the Public Prosecutor for information she published on May 2003, in her column "In Private" in the newspaper El Nacional, based on a recording of a meeting at the Presidential Palace (Palacio de Miraflores) between the Vice-President José Vicente Rangel and the Ministers Aristóbulo Istúriz and Maria Cristina Iglesias.
- The journalist Napoleón Bravo was charged by the Office of the Public Prosecutor for the alleged crime of incitation to hate for having mentioned the grandchild of the Vice-President of the Republic.
Marianella Salazar, a columnist for the newspaper El Nacional and anchor woman of a radio program, was charged for libel when she denounced alleged irregularities committed by the Vice-President José Vicente Rangel and the Governor of the State of Miranda, Diosdado Cabello.
Patricia Poleo, a journalist and the director of the newspaper “El Nuevo
País”, is being charged by the 34th Control Court for having
taken part in the crime of the Public Prosecutor, Danilo Anderson,
occurred on November 18th, 2004, as one of the presumptive intellectual
actors. Patricia Poleo is signaled by Giovanni Vásquez de Armas,
witness of the General Attorney’s Office,
of having attended the meetings in which such crime was planned. Through
a Report of the General Attorney’s Office of Colombia, it was publicly
known that Vásquez de Armas, who purportedly attended such meetings
planning the crime, was actually in prison for carrying false
documentation crediting him as a psychiatrist and forensic practitioner,
as a member of the FBI, as a karate world champion and as an English
teacher. The imputation also
fell over Nelson Mezerhane, an entrepreneur and partner of the news
channel “Globovisión”, over Salvador Romaní (jr.) and over the General
of the Venezuelan National Guard (Retired), Eugenio Añez Núñez.
Notwithstanding, Vásquez de Armas is free from any and all charges, for
giving information to the General Attorney’s
Office regarding other purportedly implicates
3. The Inter-American Human Rights Commission has been expressing its concern with the situation of journalists in Venezuela, ever since the year 2002. Some journalists have filed suits for physical aggression by government officials or sympathizers. Some of these journalists have been granted precautionary protection measures, however these have not been very effective and, in the opinion of the journalists concerned, the government has not made an effort to insure their enforcement.
4. In view of the Government's failure to enforce the precautionary measures approved by the Inter American Commission on Human Rights, this body urged the Inter American Human Rights Court to order the Venezuelan State to adopt the Provisional Measures for the protection of journalists' right to life, personal integrity and freedom of expression (http://www.corteidh.or.cr/seriee/index.html#luisiana) and to insure the protection of some print and audiovisual media's equipment and headquarters. During the last two years, the Inter American Court has issued several resolutions ordering such provisional protection. (http://www.corteidh.or.cr/paises/venezuela.html)
5. During the years 2002, 2003 and 2004 several television and radio stations and newspaper headquarters were attacked by government sympathizers. Hundreds of street reporters were also subject to attacks, so much so that they were forced to wear bullet proof vests, helmets and gas masks to protect themselves from attacks by the National Guard and violent pro-government groups. All episodes of aggression to media headquarters and reporters by pro-government sympathizers followed some speech or declaration by the President or high level government officials against private media.
Congressman Alberto Jordán Hernandez bore witness to some of these attacks.