IAPA asks United States to waive restriction against foreign journalists

Miami (July 16, 2004).- The Inter American Press Association (IAPA) asked today
that the U.S. State Department today to reverse its decision to require foreign
journalists to leave the country in order to renew their visas, since this hinders
and impedes the freedom to practice journalism.

In a letter sent to the Secretary of State, Colin L. Powell, IAPA President
Jack Fuller, from Tribune Publishing Company, in Chicago, Illinois, stressed
that this action creates a barrier for the free flow of information and could
lead to other countries implementing similar requirements against U.S. journalists.

The following is an excerpt from the letter:

“Our organization believes that this action is in conflict with the Declaration
of Chapultepec, which contains ten principles on freedom of the press and freedom
of expression, and specifically, its Fifth Principle, which states, ‘Prior
censorship, restrictions on the circulation of the media or dissemination of
their reports, forced publication of information, the imposition of obstacles
to the free flow of news, and restrictions on the activities and movements of
journalists directly contradict freedom of the press.’

“The essence of this principle is also included in the Declaration of
Principles on Freedom of Expression of the Organization of American States’
Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the American Convention on Human
Rights, to which the United States is a signatory.

“The IAPA, along with other international press freedom organizations
has been asking Congress in its annual renewal of the Visa Waiver Program to
add journalists to the many professions who do not need a visa for short stays
in our country, considering that historically journalists have been exempt from
this program and because it impedes their entry into the country which is dangerous
to our notion of an open society and at the same time can lead to other countries
enacting reciprocal measures against U.S. journalists.

“Our First Amendment must guarantee freedom and equality for all foreign
correspondents”, Fuller concluded.

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