Bolivian Journalist Protest Draws the Attention of the Inter American Press Association

The Inter American Press Association will travel to Bolivia on Monday, 18 October to meet with Bolivian journalists who are protesting two controversial articles of Bolivia's new Law Against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination they claim will limit freedom of expression.

A representative of the Association stated to the media that representatives will meet with Bolivian journalists, opposition members of the Bolivian congress and, they hope, President Evo Morales himself, in an attempt to better understand why the law includes articles 16 and 23 which they believe "clearly violates" the rights of journalists and may threaten freedom of the press.

On Wednesday 13 October the Inter American Press Association published a communiqué in major national newspapers which states:

To the Public Opinion

No people or society can be free without freedom of expression and of the press. The exercise of this freedom is not something authorities grant, it is an inalienable right of the people - Article 1, Declaration of Chapultepec.

The Inter American Press Association addresses the citizens and public opinion of the Plurinational State of Bolivia to remind them and highlight:

That freedom of the press and freedom of expression are elements without which true democracy cannot exist.

That these liberties, which are fundamental human rights acknowledged by the Constitution and international treaties, have no other objective other than to allow each person to continually seek the truth.

That the struggle to ensure these rights and liberties are protected and not violated, is not imbued by the personal interests of journalists and the media, but by the elemental human principle that free information and the right to knowledge are a citizen's privilege.

That no law should restrict these rights and guarantees, without preserving them as a necessary requirement for achieving the common good.

That the Law Against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination cannot achieve its true dimension or social and human objectives if it establishes prior censure through the imposition of severe penalties against the public's right to be informed.

That, without these guarantees for freedom of expression there is the risk that governments may use this legislation to discriminate against journalists and the media which may be considered 'uncomfortable' thus avoiding the free flow of information through diverse, plural channels.

For these reasons, the Inter American Press Association calls upon Bolivian society, the people and their representative authorities to reconsider the reaches of this law, revert the articles that attempt against the right to information, and amend the errors that weaken democracy and the search for the common good.

(This is a translation of the communiqué which was published in Spanish).

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