Text: H.Res.536 — 114th Congress (2015-2016)All Information (Except Text)

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Engrossed in House (12/15/2015)

[Congressional Bills 114th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H. Res. 536 Engrossed in House (EH)]

H. Res. 536

                In the House of Representatives, U. S.,

                                                     December 15, 2015.
Whereas despite the strong tradition of independent and critical media in many 
        countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, journalists in some 
        countries are becoming increasingly vulnerable to violence and 
        government harassment;
Whereas, on July 29, 2015, the Western Hemisphere Subcommittee convened a 
        hearing titled ``Threats to Press Freedom in the Americas'' and Carlos 
        Lauria, Senior Americas Program Coordinator at the Committee to Protect 
        Journalists stated that ``Scores of journalists have been killed and 
        disappeared. Media outlets have been bombed and forced into 
        censorship***. Censorship due to violence in Latin America has reached 
        one of its highest points since most of the region was dominated by 
        military rule more than three decades ago.'';
Whereas in 2014, Cuban authorities detained 1,817 members of civil society, 31 
        of whom were independent journalists;
Whereas in Cuba, independent journalists face sustained harassment, including 
        detention and physical abuse from the Castro regime;
Whereas in Ecuador, in September 2015, the government took steps to close the 
        sole press freedom monitoring organization, Fundamedios, for exceeding 
        its corporate charter, but the government relented in the face of 
        international criticism and potential economic reprisals;
Whereas in the country, forced corrections by the government have become a means 
        of institutional censorship;
Whereas according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, Mexico is one of the 
        most dangerous countries in the world for the press;
Whereas in Mexico, over 50 journalists have been killed or have disappeared 
        since 2007, at least 11 reporters have been killed since 2011, 4 of them 
        in direct reprisal for their work;
Whereas according to the Committee to Protect Journalists, at least four 
        journalists have been killed in Brazil in 2015, many times after being 
        tortured and having their bodies mutilated;
Whereas Evany Jose Metzker, a political blogger in the state of Minas Gerais who 
        had been investigating a child prostitution ring, was found decapitated 
        outside the town of Padre Paraiso;
Whereas according to the Organization of American States (OAS) 2014 Annual 
        Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, journalists 
        covering protests in Venezuela were subject to assaults, obstruction, 
        detention, raids, threats, censorship orders, and confiscation or 
        destruction of equipment;
Whereas, on April 21, 2015, a lawsuit within the 29th District Tribunal of the 
        Metropolitan area of Caracas charged the journal El Nacional and its 
        Chief Editor Miguel Henrique Otero for ``reproducing false information'' 
        and was forced to flee Venezuela;
Whereas the Honduran national human rights commissioner reported that eight 
        journalists and social communicators were killed as of September, 
        compared with three in 2013, and dozens of cases in which journalists 
        reported being victims of threats and persecution;
Whereas according to the OAS 2014 Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission 
        on Human Rights, members of the media and nongovernmental organizations 
        (NGOs) stated the press ``self-censored'' due to fear of reprisal from 
        organized crime or corrupt government officials;
Whereas in Colombia, there were 98 incidents of violence and harassment against 
        journalists, 30 were physically attacked, and 45 were victims of 
        harassment or intimidation due to their reporting;
Whereas members of illegal armed groups sought to inhibit freedom of expression 
        by intimidating, threatening, kidnapping, and killing journalists;
Whereas national and international NGOs reported that local media 
        representatives regularly practiced self-censorship because of threats 
        of violence from these groups;
Whereas according to the OAS 2014 Annual Report of the Inter-American Commission 
        on Human Rights, throughout 2014, Guatemala presented accounts of cases 
        of harassment and the filing of several criminal complaints against a 
        newspaper that criticized the Administration;
Whereas according to the Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights 
        Practices for 2014 in Nicaragua, the government continued to use direct 
        and indirect means to pressure and seek to close independent radio 
        stations, allegedly for political reasons;
Whereas according to the Department of State's Country Reports on Human Rights 
        Practices for 2014 in Argentina, a survey released of 830 journalists 
        throughout the country indicated 53 percent of respondents worked for a 
        media outlet that self-censored content; and
Whereas almost half the journalists surveyed said they self-censored in their 
        reporting on the national government: Now, therefore, be it
    Resolved, That the House of Representatives--
            (1) supports a free press in Latin America and the Caribbean and 
        condemns violations of press freedom and violence against journalists;
            (2) urges countries in the region to implement recommendations from 
        the Organization of American States' Office of the Special Rapporteur 
        for Freedom of Expression to its Member States;
            (3) urges countries in Latin America and the Caribbean to be vocal 
        in condemning violations of press freedom, violence against journalists, 
        and the culture of impunity that leads to self-censorship;
            (4) urges countries in the Western Hemisphere to uphold the 
        principles outlined in the Inter-American Democratic Charter and urges 
        their neighbors in the region to stand by the charter they are a party 
        to; and
            (5) urges the United States Agency for International Development and 
        the Department of State to assist, when appropriate, the media in closed 
        societies to promote an open and free press.


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