ACM against closure of Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, May 29, CMC – The Association of Caribbean MediaWorkers (ACM) Tuesday called on Caribbean Community (CARICOM) governments to ensure that no decision is taken at the upcoming general assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS) that would have the effect of reducing the strength and influence of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.

“We are calling on regional governments present in Bolivia to mirror the strong concerns of the region’s journalistic community on these matters and to express their strongest support for the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression,” the ACM said in a statement.

It reminded regional governments that in January, it had foreign ministers and other heads of delegation attending the OAS General Assembly in Bolivia from June 3-5, “to ensure no decision is taken there” to erode the effectiveness of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression.

“As stated in our January 18 letter to 14 Caribbean leaders, we note with dismay moves that would ensure the Office’s adherence to a “code of conduct”, the cessation of annual publications on the state of freedom of expression in the Americas and “a proposed re-allocation of financial resources that can reduce support for the Office,” the regional media organisation said.

It said that Article 4 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter states, inter alia, that “freedom of expression and the press are essential components of the exercise of democracy.”

The ACM, which groups journalists and media workers from the English, French, Dutch and Spanish speaking Caribbean, said a “growing awareness of the value and application of free expression in the flourishing of democracy in the Caribbean and wider region is considerably advised by the work of the Rapporteur in researching and bringing such issues to public attention and stimulating action.

“We are calling on regional governments present in Bolivia to mirror the strong concerns of the region’s journalistic community on these matters and to express their strongest support for the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression,” the ACM added.