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Argentina25 September 2006

La Rioja governor urged to oppose censorship bill

Dear Mr. Governor,

Reporters Without Borders, an organisation that defends press freedom worldwide, is worried about a bill submitted to the La Rioja provincial parliament by representatives Gustavo Minuzzi and Teresita Luna that would impose a fine on any publication that raises the issue of suicide on the grounds that it would be “harmful for young people.”

Article 31 of the La Rioja provincial constitution upholds full press freedom. It says: “There may be no law or provision that contradicts, restricts or limits press freedom (...) The work of the news media may not be interrupted, suspended or obstructed by public authorities in a way that directly or indirectly limits free expression and the free flow of views and information.”

Adoption of this bill would therefore directly violate the provisions of the provincial constitution.

Representative Minuzzi denies that he is promoting censorship. Nonetheless, his bill calls for the suppression of anything, in editorials or news reports, that “refers to a crime, a vice or bad habits likely to harm children, adolescents or young people.” It also calls for a formal ban on photos concerning suicide.

His arguments are inadmissible. We hold that it is not up to the law to determine editorial policy. This is the job of editors. And in matters such as these, it is also the job of parents to limit the influence of certain publications or films.

We therefore urge you, in the name of press freedom and article 31 of the constitution, to formally oppose adoption of this bill.

We trust you will give this matter your careful consideration.

Sincerely,

Robert Ménard,
General Secretary



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