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by Jeremy Le Page
Wednesday, May. 28, 2003 at 7:04 PM
The Human Rights Watch is concerend that the Venezuelan government is not doing all it should to protect journalists.
TORONTO (NFTF.org) -- The Venezuelan government is not doing all it can to protect journalists in the economically and politically unstable nation, says Human Rights Watch.
The organization claims there were about 130 assaults on journalists, including threats, between 2002 and February 2003. The violence, say Human Rights Watch representatives, has been mostly committed by civilian supporters of President Hugo Chavez.
A 26-page report by the organization, suggests the justice system fails to identify and punish the perpetrators.
States the report: "In 2002 and the early months of 2003, the government of President Hugo Chavez and most of the Venezuelan media were virtually at war. Leading journalists repeatedly denounced the president in harsh, at times blatantly partisan terms. President Chavez, for his part, frequently lambasted the media in his weekly television and radio broadcasts, often singling out media owners by name as traitors and coup-mongers. As the situation grew more polarized, attacks on opposition journalists by supporters of the president increased sharply. Some opposition supporters, in turn, targeted public and community media that tended to support the president.
"The Venezuelan government has not done nearly enough to stop acts of violence against journalists or to prosecute those responsible. Indeed, its actions have often increased public agitation against the media. ... The present climate of political polarization in Venezuela fosters violence and jeopardizes respect for human rights. The media can contribute to a constructive public debate by providing fair and accurate reporting. In turn, the government must preserve Venezuela's traditional respect for press freedom."
The report also suggests the Venezuelan government set up a special committee to investigate attacks on journalists.
YellowTimes.org correspondent Jeremy Le Page drafted this report.
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