Impunity Committee Report
October 2011 – April 2012
Palacio de Congresos, Cádiz, Spain
• The Mexican Congress on March 13 passed an amendment to Article 73 of the Constitution to make crimes committed against freedom of expression and the right to information federal offenses, a request that at various levels the IAPA had been making since 1997. The organization asked for a speed-up in actions to bring this constitutional amendment into force immediately.
• We participated and collaborated in celebration on November 23 of the first “World Anti-Impunity Day,” fostered by IFEX (International Freedom of Expression Exchange) with promotion of activities on the Internet, Facebook and Twitter.
• We took part in a forum on press freedom and impunity in Latin America at the Harvard University’s Carr Center on November 18.
• Eight Latin American universities were acknowledged for the excellence of their research presented at the 2011 Puebla conference. A delegate from each university in Brazil, Colombia (2), México (2), Nicaragua, Peru and the Dominican Republic was invited to the conference “The Inter-American System and Freedom of Expression” held in Washington, D.C., March 26-27, in which they made recommendations for public policies to combat impunity. Those attending the conference called for the creation of systems of protection of journalists and stressed the need for cases of crimes against journalists to be not subject to statutes of limitations.
• During this period several meetings were held concerning cases of murder:
o In October and December with the Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, Catalina Botero, on the cases before the IACHR and on statutes of limitation in cases of crimes against journalists in Colombia not being included in the legal reform of last year which had increased the lengths of such statutes.
o During the Lima General Assembly with Peruvian members of Congress on progress in the Alberto Rivera Fernández case.
o Consultation with representatives of the government of Paraguay concerning the 1991 murder of Santiago Leguizamón.
• Two missions were staged in which the issue of unpunished murders was taken up with the presidents of El Salvador and Honduras, Mauricio Funes and Porfirio Lobo, respectively.
• A letter was sent to the Human Rights Secretary of the Brazilian Presidency, reporting on the findings and the interview with the only person convicted of the murder of Manoel Leal de Oliveira, and which could provide elements for a reopening of the case.
• The Inter-American Human Rights Court issued a ruling on April 2 concerning the case of Narciso González, who disappeared in 1994, which requires the government of the Dominican Republic to “establish the truth of the matter” and “punish those responsible.”
• Brazil blocked a United Nations proposal on the safety of journalists during a meeting of the Inter-Governmental Council of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) International Program for the Development of Communication in Paris on March 22, in which the IAPA was represented by Ronald Koven.
FUNDRAISING / KNIGHT FOUNDATION:
• Former IACHR Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression Ignacio Álvarez offered pro bono legal assistance for dealing with cases that the IAPA has submitted and is discussing with the IACHR, during a meeting in Washington, D.C., on March 28.
• The proposal to create a Hemisphere-wide Universities Network: Anti-Impunity Laboratory was sent to the Knight Foundation on December 20.
• The final 2008-2011 project report was sent to the Knight Foundation on December 1.
• Regarding the case of Santiago Leguizamón, murdered on April 26, 1991, there was sent to the government of Paraguay a list of petitions to consider in the possible talks to reach an amicable agreement in the case. The IAPA is maintaining contact with representatives of the government of Paraguay in Washington. The case was submitted to the IACHR on January 19, 2007.
• New investigations in the cases of Jorge Torres and Julio Daniel Chaparro, killed in Colombia en 1991, were submitted to the IACHR on December 2.
• La RRU investigated:
o Brazil, public hearings on violence against the press in Mato Grosso
o Brazil, the murder of Laécio de Souza
o Brazil, risks in environmental reporting
o Brazil, interview with journalist Cándido Figueredo of Paraguay
o Brazil, mayor accused of the murder of Edinaldo Filgueira
o Colombia, the murder of Jesús Martínez Orozco
o Colombia, conviction of a paramilitary for the murder of Álvaro Alonso Escobar
o Mexico, follow-up and progress in the Senate making crimes federal offenses
o Mexico, attack on newspaper in Veracruz
o Various consultations on violence against journalists and cases before the IACHR
• A video was prepared on risks faced by Mexican journalists in Sinaloa state, available on the Web site
• Protective measures: early in December possible steps to protect Diana Calderón of the RRU-Colombia were looked into.
• Brazil, Rio de Janeiro, June 2 – A seminar on reporting under risk is scheduled, coinciding with the 10th anniversary of the murder of Tim Lopes on June 2, 2002.
• Colombia, Bogotá, February – Meeting of security chiefs of Honduras and Colombia to share experiences and practices for the protection of news media and journalists.
• Honduras, Tegucigalpa, January 30 to February 3 – Seminar on safety of journalists practices. A total of 37 people attended.
• Honduras, San Pedro Sula, January 30 to February 3 – Seminar on safety of journalists practices. A total of 33 people attended.
• Mexico, Zacatecas, Zacatecas, December 1-2 – Seminar “Reducing Risk, Safe Coverage.” A total of 41 people attended.
• Mexico, Mexico City, November 28-29 – Seminar “Effective Use of Audio, Photography and Videos on the Web and How to Minimize Risks in Covering the News.” A total of 35 people attended.
• A total of 129 newspapers are continuing in the banner campaign on their Web sites, another 332 publications are also maintaining their commitment in the press campaign.
• In this period thematic ads were designed, among them one that urged the Mexican Senate to pass a constitutional reform to make murders of journalists federal offenses and another that expressed satisfaction at the constitutional amendment that puts crimes against freedom of expression under federal jurisdiction, and asked for progress in pending legislative and executive branch proceedings. This month another will be issued on the ruling of the Inter-American Human Rights Court on the case of Narciso González of the Dominican Republic.
• In this period 13 press releases were issued on matters relating to the project in Brazil, Colombia, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Uruguay, and on the inter-American human rights system.
• Ten bulletins were issued between October 2011 and April 2012.
Journalists Murders Since the Lima General Assembly, October 2011
(4 Journalists Murders)
+ Jean Liphete Nelson, director of Radio Boukman, Cité Soleil, Haiti. He was killed on March 5, 2012.
+ Paulo Roberto Cardoso Rodrigues (Paulo Rocaro), editor-in-chief of the newspaper Jornal de Praça and founder of the Web site Mercosulnews, in the city of Ponta Pará, in Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil. He was killed on February 12, 2012.
+ Mário Randolfo Marques Lopes, editor of the Web site Vassouras na Net, in the city of Vassouras, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. He was killed on February 9, 2012.
+ Laécio de Souza, reporter with Sucesso FM radio and candidate for member of the city council of Simões Filho, in Bahia. He was killed on January 3, 2012.