Sunday, July 25, 2010

Venezuela: Supreme Court Restricts the Right to Information

23 July 2010

Venezuela: Supreme Court Restricts the Right to Information

The Supreme Court of Venezuela ruled, in a biding decision, that a plaintiff must explain the reasons for requiring public information, which also must be limited to the scope of the intended use. ARTICLE 19 condemns the ruling and calls on the Venezuelan Government to conform their practices to international standards.

Asociación Espacio Público had appealed to the Constitutional Court following the refusal by the Office of the Comptroller General to disclose the salaries of its public officials. In its 15 July ruling, the court argued that such disclosure would violate the officials’ constitutional right to privacy.

The acceptance of the right to information will sometimes require balancing with other rights. However, best practices around the world have indicated that the public interest resulting from transparency and openness of public accounts takes precedence over the rights of civil servants to keep their salaries confidential. Also, there are ways to disclose the salaries of officials by ranks, while preserving their identity.

Furthermore, the right of access to information is based on the assumption that information held by public institutions is the property of the public, so there should be no obligation placed upon the public to explain why they need the information requested.

The right to information fosters accountability and efficiency in governments by allowing civil society groups to participate in public affairs, not only monitoring salaries, but also public policies.

ARTICLE 19 calls on the Venezuelan government to refrain from demanding the reasons behind information requests and from limiting the amount of information disclosed. We also urge the Venezuelan authorities to adopt a progressive jurisprudence on the right to information, highlighting clearly the prevalence of public interest and the proactive disclosure of public information.


• For more information please contact: Arthur Serra Massuda,, +55 11 3057 0042.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

India - Kashmir: Journalists barred from reporting on demonstrations; journalist slain

India - Kashmir:

Journalists barred from reporting on demonstrations; journalist slain

Indian troops crack down on Kashmiri journalists.
Indian troops crack down on Kashmiri journalists.
via AP
Weeks of anti-India street protests have left 15 people dead in Indian-controlled Kashmir and authorities are striking hard with a complete lockdown on local coverage of the unrest. Local journalists have been beaten by police and barred from covering the government crackdown on demonstrators, and thousands of police have been deployed in the region to enforce a curfew, report the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ). Authorities have also attempted to control the flow of information by shutting down publications and confiscating newspapers prior to distribution. At the same time, in two other states, a journalist was killed and an editor arrested.

Widespread demonstrations began in early June in the Kashmir Valley, and cities have been under curfew for several days. Curfew passes issued to journalists last week were cancelled. New passes were then issued to a few editors and senior journalists.

But on 9 July, BBC Urdu service journalist Riaz Masroor was stopped at a police check point and beaten as he was on his way to collect his curfew pass. And on 6 July, at least 12 photographers and cameramen working for local, national and international media suffered serious injuries after being assaulted by security forces trying to stop them from recording the demonstrations. Some had their equipment confiscated. "Senior police officers were heard remarking that without media attention the demonstrations would soon lose momentum," reports IFJ.

Many of the area's more than 60 newspapers decided to suspend publication because of the small number of curfew passes issued to staff and continued attacks on media.

In the region of Jammu, authorities sealed the premises of three publications on 2 July alleging they had carried false news reports that aggravated tensions between religious communities. The next day, two newspapers in English and Urdu, were seized. Text-messaging services remain suspended and telephone services are frequently disrupted in the Kashmir region.

But not all journalists are being denied access. Journalists flying in from Delhi, the capital, are being given armed protection and considerable freedom of movement, while local journalists are confined to their homes under curfew, say IFJ and CPJ. "The story of the ongoing troubles in Kashmir needs to be told," IFJ said. "But it also should be told by journalists based in Kashmir."

Government forces have arrested dozens of suspected separatists and activists, say news reports.

Meanwhile, in the southern Indian state of Andhra Pradesh, freelance journalist Hem Chandra Pandey was killed on 2 July while covering an armed conflict between police and Maoist cadres of the Communist Party of India. Pandey had travelled to Nagpur to interview the leader of the party. He "was well within his rights in seeking to interview an insurgent leader, especially in the context of ongoing peace moves," said IFJ.

And in another southern state, Kerala, magazine editor T.P. Nandakumar was arrested on defamation charges on 3 July after writing about an Indian businessman, who is a resident in the Gulf emirate of Abu Dhabi. Nandakumar was under court injunction not to publish any material on the businessman, the complainant. His arrest came after an article was posted on the "Crime Magazine" website. Nandakumar was released on bail the next day.

"Crime Magazine" is widely read because of its coverage of alleged misdeeds of several major political parties in the state, having a significant political impact.

Source :

Three Depressed terrorists

Three Depressed terrorists
Terrorism is inhuman act, an evil concept