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IAPA delegation to take part in OAS General Assembly

(IAPA/IFEX) - The following is a 1 June 2001 IAPA press release:

IAPA delegation to take part in OAS General Assembly
To show support for IACHR and Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression

MIAMI, Florida (June 1, 2001) - With the aim of underscoring the major role of the Organization of American States' Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in protecting press freedom and of its Office of Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression, a delegation of the Inter American Press Association (IAPA) will act as an observer at the OAS' General Assembly to be held in Costa Rica June 3-5 with human rights as a main agenda item.

The IAPA group, headed by President Danilo Arbilla, editor of the Montevideo, Uruguay, news weekly Búsqueda, will be attending the 31st Regular Session of the OAS opening on Sunday in the Costa Rican capital of San José as a show of support for the work being carried out by the IACHR, whose achievements include the drafting of a Declaration of Principles of Freedom of Expression, endorsed by the IAPA in March, and the establishment of the Office of Special Rapporteur on the issue, headed by Santiago Canton, which is now playing a central role in defending freedom of the press in the Americas.

"The principles enshrined in the Declaration and the very creation of the Office of Rapporteur are tools in the fight for defense of freedom of expression," Arbilla said. "They also provide a frame of reference and establish the importance of press freedom as the first and foremost of human rights." He added that the reports submitted by the Rapporteur have contributed to the defense of freedom of the press in the Americas.

The IAPA delegation is also made up of representatives of the Costa Rican newspapers La Nacion and Al Día, Eduardo Ulibarri and Armando González Rodicio, respectively, and IAPA Press Freedom Coordinator Ricardo Trotti.

The IACHR has taken an active part in negotiations between the government of Guatemala and the IAPA for the creation of an Ad-hoc Commission, with representatives of each party reaching an agreement for a friendly resolution in the case of Guatemalan journalist Irma Flaquer, who disappeared in 1980 and is presumed to have been murdered.

The Ad-hoc Commission, which is due to meet in Miami on June 8, is to draw up a timetable of actions designed to pay homage to Flaquer, for whose murder the Guatemalan government has acknowledged a responsibility. The IAPA president said that this development "amounts to a clear message against the impunity surrounding the overwhelming majority of crimes against journalists in the Americas."

The IACHR, the leading agency of the Organization of American states responsible for promoting and protecting human rights in the Western Hemisphere, has taken part with the IAPA in a number of activities to ensure observance of the fundamental rights of human beings. The IAPA also acknowledges the initiatives undertaken by the OAS to promote freedom of the press in the hemisphere.

In this regard, the IAPA and the IACHR are working on a seminar featuring an exchange of views with judges on press freedom, sponsored by the Inter-American Development Bank, to be held later this year.

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