16 June 2010
IFJ Condemns "Harsh and Unacceptable " Sentence against Journalist in Venezuela
The International Federation of Journalists (IFJ)
today condemned the ruling of a court in Venezuela
which sentenced journalist Francisco Perez of El Carabobeño newspaper to three years and 9 months imprisonment
and fined him 20.000 US dollars. The court also banned him from exercising
professional and political activities.
"We condemn this harsh and unacceptable sentence which takes media repression in Venezuela at record levels," said Aidan White, IFJ General Secretary. "The four crippling orders in the ruling prove the manipulation of justice in Venezuela in order to silence critical reporting on the country's leadership"
Perez, writer for over forty years of a journalistic column in daily El Carabobeñ", of Valencia, one of the most important cities of Venezuela, has been accused of "slander and offense to civil servant" following his article about alleged acts of nepotism involving the mayor of the city, Edgardo Parra.
The IFJ says the sentence against Perez demonstrates the need to continue the campaign waged by journalists all over the world for the decriminalization of press offences.
This case, says the Federation, raises new concerns about the hostile attitude of the authorities in Venezuela towards independent media and journalists. It follows the arrest and detention on 23 May of graphic reporter Simón Clemente, of daily 2001, for carrying out his work in front of the President's residence in Caracas, which is considered "security area".
There have been bomb attacks against "Ultimas Noticias" "El Mundo" and "Líder" newspapers' offices, located in the Torre de la Prensa building, in Caracas. No one was hurt in these acts which constitute a deliberate attempt to intimidate free press. In another incident, two journalists, Carmen Marin of Final and Junior Lugo of daily La Mañana, in Coro are facing prosecution to reveal their sources which tipped them for their report about the alleged incineration of rotten food in the area of Tiguadare in the Falcón state.
The IFJ is monitoring closely the situation of the TV news channel Globovision, after accusations were leveled against its owner Guillermo Zuloaga, for alleged illegal commercial practices which are not related to the media outlet. The businessman has complained that these allegations are part of the campaign of harassment and pressure by the Venezuelan government against the TV channel.
For more information contact the IFJ at +32 2 235 22 07
The IFJ represents over 600,000 journalists in 125 countries worldwide