Venezuela Limits Travel by Media Executives

Washington

In response to the Venezuelan judiciary’s decision to prohibit 22 media owners and executives from leaving the country because of a libel suit brought by the National Assembly President, Freedom House issued the following statement:

“Venezuela imposing sanctions against these media leaders is a clear act of government censorship,” said Carlos Ponce, director for Latin America programs. “The court’s decision highlights the government’s attempt to intimidate media, and the judicial system’s disregard for due process. The court’s decision, as well as the dubious process by which it was reached, clearly violates the Venezuelan Constitution, the American Convention on Human Rights and rulings made by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, and should be reversed immediately.”

Background:

On April 23, National Assembly President Diosdado Cabello filed a libel case against 22 representatives of the media outlets El Nacional, La Patilla, and Tal Cual for republishing a story by the Spain-based newspaper ABC alleging that Cabello maintained links to drug trafficking groups.

Cabello claimed that, beginning on January 27, these outlets had published information in a “systematic and progressive” way that caused “grave damage” to his “reputation and honor.” The case was accepted on May 5, and the 12th court of the metropolitan district of Caracas rendered a verdict May 13. But the accused were never informed of the specifics of the accusation or the evidence presented against them.

Venezuela is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2015, Not Free in Freedom of the Press 2015, and Partly Free in Freedom on the Net 2014.

Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.

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