New York, August 24, 2011--The Committee to Protect Journalists condemns
the closure of the Venezuelan newspaper 6to
after a judge ruled on Monday that the weekly cease distribution. The
newspaper's owner and a top executive were charged with incitement to hatred,
insulting a public official, and publicly denigrating women
after the paper published a satirical article on government
officials, local press reports said
closing of 6to Poder
and the serious charges against its executives are
nothing but censorship and an attempt to intimidate other media from indulging
in satire," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "The authorities should
lift the injunction banning the newspaper, and all charges against its staff
should be dropped."
Saturday, the weekly published an article titled "Las poderosas de la
revolución bonita" (The Powerful Women of the Beautiful Revolution), in which
several high-ranking female judges
officials in President Hugo Chávez's administration were described as having
specific functions in a "cabaret directed by Mr. Chávez," press reports said
. The story was
accompanied by a photo montage that superimposed the officials' heads onto the
bodies of cabaret dancers.
article's publication, government officials said
the piece was
derogatory to women and insisted the newspaper be investigated, the press
reported. On Monday, a judge issued an injunction that ordered the newspaper to
immediately cease distribution while prosecutors investigated the case. The
newspaper's lawyer, Pedro Aranguren, intends to appeal the decision, the press reported
newspaper's top executive, Dinorah Girón, was arrested on Sunday and released
on Tuesday, Silvia Alegrett, president of the local journalist group Colegio
Nacional de Periodistas, told CPJ. Girón must appear in court every 15 days and
is forbidden to talk to the media about the case, Alegrett said. According to press
, a warrant has been
issued for the arrest of Leocenis García, the newspaper's owner. On Tuesday,
the daily El Nacional
published a press
by Garcia in which he says he is in hiding.
criminal code, the charges of incitement to hatred and insulting a public
official carry prison sentences and high fines; publicly offending women is a
punishable offense under the Right of Women to a Life Free of Violence Law.
that the Chávez
administration has used all the tools of power to silence critical news media.
Relying on politicized courts last year, the government barred two major
newspapers from publishing images of crime and violence in the run-up to
September legislative elections.
body of international legal opinion affirms that public officials should not
enjoy protection from scrutiny. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights'
Declaration of Principles on Freedom of Expression, approved in October 2000,
says, "Public officials are subject to greater scrutiny by society. Laws that
penalize offensive expressions directed at public officials restrict freedom of
expression and the right to information."