Zurich, 29 October 2000


At the Board Meeting of the International Press Institute (IPI), held in Zurich, Switzerland, on 29 October, the Executive Board Members unanimously agreed to keep Russia on the "IPI Watch List" and add Peru, Sri Lanka and Venezuela.

The inclusion of Peru on the "IPI Watch List" comes at a time when, despite the promised dismantling of the National Intelligence Service, the sacking of its chief, Vladimiro Montesinos, and the announcement of new elections in which President Alberto Fujimoro has said he will not stand, the independent media have little reason to feel optimistic. Opposition leaders accuse Fujimori’s government of stalling negotiations on democratic reform; in particular, on the issue of dismantling the presidential commissions which manipulate Peru’s judicial system.

Regarding Sri Lanka, the Executive Board concluded that the profound animus shown towards the media by President Chandrika Kumaratunga warranted the inclusion of the country on the "IPI Watch List". A view reinforced by the imposition of wide ranging emergency powers which curtailed press freedom, the blocking of news reporting and the apparent pursuit of a vendetta against Sunday Leader editor, Lasantha Wickrematunga, who received a suspended sentence for defamation in September.

In Venezuela, journalists fear that an article in the new Constitution, which stipulates that reporting must be "timely, truthful and impartial, could spell the end for press freedom in their country, one of Latin America’s oldest democracies. President Chávez, who swept to power in February 1999, on a left of centre platform, has alienated important sectors of society and has frequently criticised local and foreign media for "distorting" his proposals for reform.

Aside from the inclusion of three new countries, the Executive Board agreed that press freedom in Russia is still under serious threat and that the government has undertaken several measures which have further jeopardised the future of press freedom. Among the reasons the board listed for its decision to keep Russia on the "IPI Watch List" was the adoption by the Russian president of a new Doctrine on Information Security. The Doctrine advocates far greater state influence on the media and reveals a concerted effort by the new administration to perpetuate a culture of secrecy.

Devised by IPI, the "IPI Watch List" is a mechanism to detect and document regressive tendencies in countries that appear to be moving towards suppressing or restricting press freedom. The main objective of the "IPI Watch List" is to focus global media attention on the offending country and bring pressure to bear on the government in order to reverse the trend towards repression. Each country’s status will be evaluated twice yearly by the Executive Board.

Developments in the above-mentioned countries will be closely monitored by the IPI secretariat and the Executive Board will decide, at its next meeting, if there is a need to keep these countries on the "IPI Watch List". 

regreso a documentos            regreso a Libertad de Expresión