May 25, 2007

"The principle of the impartiality of the state"?! Whassat??!

The European Parliament says:

A. whereas media pluralism and freedom of expression are an indispensable pillar of democracy,

B. whereas media freedom is of primary importance for democracy and respect for fundamental freedoms, given its essential role in guaranteeing the free expression of opinions and ideas and in contributing to people's effective participation in democratic processes,

C. whereas the non-renewal of the broadcasting license of the private audiovisual group Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV), which expires on 27 May 2007, may endanger the future of a media organ employing 3000 people,

D. whereas the non-renewal of the license of this audiovisual organ, one of Venezuela's oldest and most important, will deprive a large section of the public of a pluralist source of information, thus undermining the right of the press to criticise the authorities,

E. whereas the President of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez, has announced that he was not going to renew the broadcasting licence of one of the country's leading television stations, Radio Caracas Televisión (RCTV) and the license expires on 27 May 2007,

F. whereas Radio Caracas Televisión is, according to the statements of the Venezuelan government, the only media organ affected by this decision concerning the non-renewal of its license,

G. whereas Articles 57 and 58 of Venezuela's Constitution guarantee freedom of expression, communication and information,

H. whereas Venezuela is a signatory to the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, the International Pact on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights,

I. whereas RCTV has appealed to the Venezuelan Supreme Court, but the Court has failed to rule within the time-limit laid down in law,

J. whereas the attitudes for which the RCTV management is reproached should provide grounds, should the authorities consider it necessary, for ordinary legal proceedings,

K. whereas this decision was publicly announced at the end of December by the President himself, thus establishing an alarming precedent for freedom of expression in Venezuela,

1. Reminds the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela of its obligation to respect freedom of expression and opinion and freedom of the press, as it is bound to do under its own Constitution and under the Democratic Charter, the International Pact on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Venezuela is a signatory;

2. Calls on the Government of Venezuela, in the name of the principle of the impartiality of the state, to ensure equal treatment under the law for all media, whether privately or publicly owned and irrespective of all political or ideological considerations;

3. Calls for a dialogue between the Venezuelan Government and the country's private media, while deploring the government's total unwillingness to engage in dialogue in general, notably in the case of RCTV;

4. Calls, therefore, on the relevant delegations and committees of Parliament to examine this issue;

5. Instructs its President to forward this resolution to the Council, the Commission, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of American States (OEA), the EUROLAT Assembly, the Mercosur Parliament and the Government of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.